Nigeria captain John Obi Mikel has said that the team is ‘more than happy’ with their status as ‘underdogs’ going into the 2018 World Cup in Russia.
According to the Fifa Ranking, the Super Eagles are ranked 47th in the World and have been zoned in Group D along with fifth-placed Argentina, and Iceland, currently occupying the 18th spot.
However, the Tianjin Teda midfielder is unperturbed with the standings as he believes that the squad can spring up surprises in Russia just as they did by qualifying for the global tournament.
“Honestly, people didn’t expect us to qualify but we are off to Russia and now it’s all about the rankings,” Mikel told BBC Sport.
“When you look at the group I’d say we are more than happy for people to write us off and very happy to be the underdogs.
“It takes the pressure off the shoulders of our young squad and we can go about our World Cup with humility, which is perfectly fine.
“Football is played on the pitch and not by rankings or permutations.
“We’ve got a blend of experience and a young squad playing without fear but with passion, which is good for us on the road to Russia.”
On Monday, the three-time African champions lock horns with DR Congo before they confront England on June 2 and Czech Republic four days later.
“We have friendlies against DR Congo, England and Czech Republic that will help us finalise our World Cup preparations,” he continued.
“From the first game at the World Cup our target would be to keep progressing as a team and take it from there.”
Nigeria open their World Cup campaign on June 16 with a tie against Croatia.