Nigeria will start the World Cup as outsiders but their players have vowed to make life tough for their fancied opponents in Russia.
“No game is going to be easy for us,” striker Kelechi Iheanacho said.
“But playing against Super Eagles is not going to be easy for any of the opponents,” he warned.
The three-time African champions start their sixth World Cup finals in Group D against Croatia, Iceland and Argentina.
They have never made it past the second round and are widely predicted to struggle this time.
They head to Russia, however, having topped their African qualifying group ahead of Zambia — a fact the players will not let anyone forget.
“This shows the enormous fighting spirit shown by the players, proven in the qualifications, and the fact that we could qualify is an absolutely tremendous achievement for our team and I personally hope that we can be one of the favourites also,” said Wilfred Ndidi.
Nigeria, coached by former Gabon manager Gernot Rohr want to use the World Cup stage to defy their 48th place on FIFA’s rankings and prove their worth.
“That’s like a window for all the world, all the countries can see it, so we’re going to be our best and get a result in the World Cup,” promised Simeon Tochukwu Nwankwo who plays for Italian side Crotone.
The first test will be against Croatia on June 16.
“I think it’s going to be a tough battle,” said defender Tyrone Ebuehi, now with Benfica.
“If you can start off the World Cup right and get the win, I think you have a good chance of getting to the next round.”
The player is also realistic about the Group D mountain ahead.
“Regardless of who you’re playing, it’s going to be a tough match-up. There’s a reason these teams are in the World Cup,” Ebuehi cautioned.
Nigeria are banking on simple qualities to make it through to the last 16.
“With us, it’s just one of those things where we’re a good team and we stick together and we really have a lot of fight. We have a lot of passion on the team for sure,” said Ebuehi.