Football

Super Eagles in the mood

CONFIDENT: Nigeria believe they can overcome powerful France. PHOTO: REUTERS

Joseph Yobo is confident Nigeria can cause an upset in their World Cup last-16 clash against France tonight (Singapore time) and qualify for the last eight.

The Africans endured a slow start to the competition, drawing 0-0 with Iran, but victory over Bosnia-Herzegovina set them up for qualification, despite losing to Argentina.

Defender Yobo saw enough in the group phase to convince him that Nigeria can overcome a powerful France in Brasilia.

"I'm proud of our team," the captain said. "I've played in this side for many years, so I've been able to see it evolve.

"We won the Africa Cup of Nations, booked our place in the World Cup without any trouble, and now we've qualified for the second round.

"It's not often that I've experienced so many pieces of good news in a row.

"That shows you we're improving. This team are young, but we are growing fast and learning quickly. We're taking confidence from our campaign so that it can help us in our next match.

"I don't see what we should be afraid of. I believe in this team, and I think we can do it."

With the row over bonus payments with the Nigerian FA settled, there was further good news for the Super Eagles when Victor Moses returned to training on Saturday.

Moses, 23, had been the main injury concern but, the Chelsea winger gave coach Stephen Keshi a boost with his presence.

Only midfielder Michael Babatunde, who fractured his wrist during the group stage, was not present.

Although Nigeria go into the game against France as underdogs, Keshi has instructed to only think about a win.

"Our mentality must be strong," Keshi said. "Our approach to every match has always been the same: To win.

NON-NEGOTIABLE

"Whether we are playing against Spain at the Confederations Cup, or playing against Liberia in a friendly match, I always tell the boys that victory is non-negotiable."

With Algeria also in the last 16, this is the first time that two African countries have advanced to the knockout stages at a World Cup.

But Keshi refused to look past the game against France, even though a win over the 1998 world champions will pit them against either Germany or Algeria in the quarter-finals.

"We don't even want to think of who might be lurking in the quarter-finals if we win, we are not bothered," Keshi said. "All we know is that we must win on Monday." - Wire Services.