The two former title winners will clash in Group A in what could be one of the eye-clashing games of the first round
Nigeria’s prospects at the 2023 CAF Africa Cup of Nations have been highlighted by former Super Eagles captain John Obi Mikel, who anticipates a challenging journey for the team, Soccernet.ng reports.
For the AFCON, the Super Eagles have been drawn in Group A together with hosts Ivory Coast, Equatorial Guinea, and Guinea-Bissau.
There are five AFCON titles between Nigeria and Ivory Coast, and Mikel has tipped both nations to make it past the group stage.
The former Chelsea midfielder, however, remains wary of the other Group A teams.
Equatorial Guinea, who have only made four appearances at the AFCON but finished fourth in 2015, are capable of causing a major upset.
While Guinea-Bissau have never made it past the group phase of the continental championship since making their debut in 2017, the Djurtus stunned Nigeria in March, defeating the Eagles 0-1 at the Abuja National Stadium.
Mikel expects the Eagles to possess enough quality to advance past the first round of the competition.
Emphasizing the competitive nature of the tournament, the former Trabzonspor midfielder expressed his belief that Nigeria will likely face a tough battle against host nation Ivory Coast to make the knockout round.
“With the group we have, I think we will escape the group; I think it’s gonna be between us and Ivory Coast to come out of the group, I hope and I think. And then after that, it will become anyone’s game because that’s what happens in this tournament,” Mikel told Pulse Sports.
Mikel played a pivotal role in Nigeria’s 2013 AFCON victory. The former Champions League and Europa League winner featured in all of the Super Eagles’ matches as Nigeria lifted the championship title for the third time in history.