Joseph Yobo has warned that the Super Eagles will have to play as a team in order to get a result against Lionel Messi and his Argentina team.
Nigeria open their campaign on June 12 against Argentina and Yobo is wary of the devastating effect the current FIFA World Player of the Year has had all season.
â€œMessi is unbelievable and just seems to get better and better,â€ Yobo told CNN. â€œEvery time heâ€™s on the ball you know something is going to happen. He deserves to be the worldâ€™s best.
â€œIt’s going to be very, very difficult, I think we have to do things as a team rather than as individuals. The way he plays he finds his freedom on the pitch which makes him exceptional but if we defend as a team and keep our position and keep our concentration for 90 minutes, hopefully we can do it.â€
The Everton defender has been involved in the Nigeria international set up since for a decade, and says the pressure is something his Premier League colleagues do not understand.
â€œThey donâ€™t understand what we go through in Nigeria â€” you have an ultimatum of what is expected. For the last African Nations Cup they said if we donâ€™t get to the final or semi-final then we are not good.”
â€œThere is always expectation because of what players in the past have done and we just have to try to better that or match it and it is very, very difficult. Itâ€™s not every player that can stand up to that.
â€œPlaying for Nigeria, a nation of over 150 million, football is like a culture so when you do well youâ€™re a big hero but when you donâ€™t do well itâ€™s like you donâ€™t want to go back home. Weâ€™ve just got to throw in everything we have got to make sure we make Nigeria proud, and not just Nigeria, Africa as a whole.â€
Not too many are giving the six African representatives a chance to win the World Cup, with Yoboâ€™s teammate Steven Pienaar saying an African country will not win the World Cup, but the big Nigerian insists that it is a unique opportunity for Africa to rule the world.
â€œThe World Cup is coming to Africa and it is very special. In South Africa we have loads of Nigerians staying there _ itâ€™s like our second home.
â€œItâ€™s very special in Africa because it is bringing out Africa as a continent _ especially South Africa the host country _ and weâ€™re playing close to home and are very excited about that.
â€œIts a great opportunity and we want to make sure this time _ we donâ€™t know when an African country is next going to be host __ we prove a point and we show how good African teams are, especially Nigeria.
â€œNow we are playing close to our fans, close to our home and family and everyone is looking forward to it. There is great expectation and we believe this is the right time if we want to show this area can do something.â€
â€œWe want to make sure this time we show how good African teams are _ especially Nigeria.â€
Yobo is already in Abuja ahead of a Send Forth Dinner with Nigerian President Goodluck Jonathan.