Super Eagles captain John Mikel Obi says he will be “killed” by his Russian in-laws if he fails with the Super Eagles, to qualify for the 2018 FIFA World Cup in Russia.
The Super Eagles currently top Group B with six points after back-to-back victories against Zambia and Algeria on matchday one and two respectively.
In second place are the Indomitable Lions of Cameroon on two points. The Chipolopolo of Zambia are third on one point, while Algeria are bottom on one point also.
Mikel, 30, who is married to a Russian woman, Olga Diyachenko, says his in-laws will not accept any excuse if Nigeria do not qualify for next year’s World Cup. They must see their in-law leading the Nigerian team at Russia 2018.
“My wife is Russian. And many of our relatives and friends are from Russia,” Mikel told FIFA.com.
“They are all expecting Nigeria to qualify for the next World Cup. I think they will kill me if I fail them.”
Looking ahead to the crucial home game against Cameroon in Uyo on August 31, Mikel, who just recovered from injury, expressed confidence that a win for the Super Eagles will edge them closer to Russia.
“We are in a very good position in our group,” the Tianjin Teda midfielder said.
“We have two wins from two games, and in our last game we beat Algeria at home. We have a very good young team and the players play good football. If we can win our next match (at home to Cameroon on 31 August) it will edge us closer to qualification. I think we can go through.”
Mikel however warned that it will not be easy against the current African Cup of Nations holders.
“As everyone knows, they are a very good team,” he said of Cameroon.
“They are strong and they play with confidence. We must get ourselves well prepared for this game and try our best to get on top against them. It won’t be easy but these are important matches. If we win both, we will be almost there.”
The 2013 AFCON winner expressed sadness over his injury but stated that he is ready to resume playing and help the Super Eagles and also his Chinese Super League club, Tianjin Teda.
He said: “I had maintained good form until this injury. So it was a shame. But this is part of the game and now I am focusing on recovery and on coming back stronger. I will do whatever I can to get fit to play for Teda and my national team.
“This Nigeria team look up to me for advice. My team-mates miss me and they need me. As the captain, I want to fulfil my role and help them with my experience.”
On his achievement as a footballer, the Premier League, FA Cup, League Cup and UEFA Champions League winner with Chelsea, says he still wants more.
“I am glad with what I have done,” he added. “But at the same time, I am not satisfied. I want to achieve more, so I must push harder. The next World Cup in Russia will be a fresh chance for us but, first, we have to make it there. Then the next challenge will be to make sure we enjoy an even better tournament in Russia than we did in Brazil.”