The Super Eagles, three-time African champions, are drawn in Group A with host nations Ivory Coast, Equatorial Guinea and Guinea-Bissau.
The 36-year-old Nigerian icon won 89 caps for Nigeria, played in two World Cups and helped the Super Eagles win the 2013 AFCON. The Super Eagles of Nigeria head to Cote d’Ivoire as one is confident Nigeria will do well and potentially go all the way to win the tournament.
While speaking to CAFOnline, Mikel said he hopes the generation of Super Eagles players could emulate what they did a decade ago.
“We are always favourites; this is every time we go into the tournament, and it’s no different this time. Everyone knows that we are one of the favourites – not the massive favourite but one of the favourites”, said the former skipper.
With players like Victor Osimhen, who recently won the CAF African Player of the Year award, and inspiring Victor Boniface, the Super Eagles squad is rich with talented players that can win the fourth AFCON for Nigeria,
Nigeria won the 1980, 1994 and 2013 editions and were runners-up in 1984, 1988, 1990 and 2000.
“To be able to do it again will be a massive achievement for us which I think the country needs right now as well. We need to get our football back where it should be and by winning this tournament, it will take it back to where it should be,” Mikel said.
“Football has changed dramatically, and I think this group of players are a good young team and play a different brand of football than we did so let’s hope we can see a good performance from the Nigerian team, ” he added.
Nigeria will kick off their 2023 AFCON campaign on January 13 against Equatorial Guinea before facing Ivory Coast on January 18 in what will be a repeat of the 2013 quarter-final where Nigeria won 2-1 and face Guinea-Bissau on 22 January in their last Group A match.