Listen to article

Odion Ighalo
Egypt 2009 U-20 World Cup Flying Eagles captain Odion Ighalo has backed the Super Eagles to advance from their group at the 2010 World Cup despite fears over the team's chances.

The Granada FC of Spain striker, who is on loan from Serie A side Udinese argued that the Nigerian team had been able to establish itself as a team to respect in international football. He was also optimistic that the Eagles would perform well in South Africa.

He said, 'Without any doubt, the group is going to be difficult playing against the likes of star-studded Argentina, Greece and Korea Republic but I believe we will scale through because we are no pushovers. No team in the World Cup can be classified as underdogs.

'I don't think a lot of people gave Nigeria a chance when we played Spain in a group opener at the 1998 World Cup in France. Spain team had great players like Fernando Hierro, Andoni Zubizaretta, Raul and other top stars but Nigeria caused an upset by winning the match 3-2.

'So I believe if we put our acts together, we should be able to qualify from the group. Big names no longer play football.'

He also expressed confidence in the ability of the Eagles strikers to perform well in South Africa.

'We are good in attack and I think scoring goals will not be a problem for the team. All the strikers need is proper blending ahead of the tournament. And I feel this will be achieved when they play friendly matches before the World Cup.

The former Lyn Oslo forward said he was not disappointed at his exclusion from the squad.

'I am not happy because the joy of every footballer is to play for their fatherland at senior level but I still thank God because my chance will come,' he added.