Published On: Wed, Jun 12th, 2019

Etebo assures Nigerians AFCON trophy as Mikel praises Chukwueze

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Oghenekaro Etebo

By Albert Akota

Super Eagles midfielder Oghenekaro Etebo has said Super Eagles “cannot afford to fail” in their return to the Africa Cup of Nations.
The West African heavyweights won the tournament in 2013, but failed to qualify for the subsequent two editions in 2015 and 2017.
Under manager Gernot Rohr they will return to the finals later this month when they take on Burundi, Guinea and Madagascar in Group B in Egypt.
“This is a special Nations Cup. We have missed two editions and that means the whole of the continent will be looking on to us to redeem our image,” Etebo told the Stoke Sentinel.
“So we cannot afford to fail. The last time we were there we left as champions in 2013, so this is the first opportunity to take part in the competition for many of us.”
He added, “I know a number of my teammates and management of my club will be looking up to me to do well on the international stage at the Africa Cup of Nations.
“Stoke is a fantastic club and they make you feel at home at every point in time. After our last game, I was put on the spot and celebrated as a send-off to the Africa Nations Cup.
Meanwhile John Obi Mikel has named two players who impressed him during the team’s pre-Africa Cup of Nations warm-up match against Zimbabwe.
The Super Eagles and the Warriors played out a goalless stalemate in their friendly game in Asaba on Saturday, as both prepare for the AFCON tournament which gets underway in less than two weeks’ time.
Mikel, who has returned to the team after a year’s absence, believes Villarreal’s Samuel Chukwueze and Bordeaux’s Samuel Kalu are quality players who could thrive at the AFCON, though he admits they are not the finished articles just yet.
“The coach has invited the players that will do the job for us. It is a very good blend of young and experience. Like the coach said, we needed a little bit of experience – Shehu [Abdullahi] and [Odion] Ighalo were not on the pitch,” Mikel said at the post match press conference.
“I think it is also good for the young players to play this game, you know Chukwueze, Kalu, you could see a bit of flashes of talent. They are very good players.
‘’I think we will work on when to run with the ball, when not to run, when to pass, but you could see the talent is there for them. I think they can do great things in this Nations Cup.
‘’We just have to keep talking to them, we the senior players, the coaches and hopefully we will have a very good plan in the Nations Cup and do great things.”
Nigeria opens their AFCON campaign with a clash against Burundi in Alexandria on June 22.

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