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Africa Cup of Nations

‘We are here to make our country proud’ – Nwakali reveals Nigeria’s mission at Afcon 2021

07:47 GMT 10/01/2022
Nigeria, Super Eagles
The Super Eagles are getting ready to start their Group D campaign against Egypt in Garoua on Tuesday evening

Nigeria midfielder Kelechi Nwakali revealed that they are focused on making their families and their country proud at the 2021 Africa Cup of Nations in Cameroon.

The 23-year-old is among the 26 players in the Super Eagles' camp in Garoua and he is in contention to feature when they take on Egypt in their first Group D match on Thursday.

While there are expectations for Austin Eguavoen’s side to better their performance at the 2019 edition in Egypt where they came third, the Huesca star said they will thrive to make a statement with their performances.

Nwakali told the NFF TV: “We came from a country where everybody believes that as Nigerians we are supposed to win every competition but mind you, every team in this place [Cameroon], have it in mind to win but as a team, we are here to make a statement.

“We are here to write our names in the history books, make our families and our country proud.

“If it happens that we win the competition, fine but the most important thing is to represent Nigeria in flying colours.

“That's the mindset of everybody, that's the first goal. It is football and we don't predict what will happen but we work as a team to win the competition.”

The 2015 Fifa World Cup champion with the Golden Eaglets and the Golden Ball winner at the same tournament in Chile, added that he approached former Super Eagles stars who encouraged him when he was not considered for an invitation to the national team.

Nwakali earned his maiden call-up to the Nigerian national team in December 2021 as he was listed in Eguavoen's initial squad for the continental football fiesta.

"I will always make sure I represent Nigeria very well and then for all the people that have stood by me, encouraging me saying that you are not there yet in the Super Eagles but you just need to keep working until the time comes,” he continued.

"I remember I spoke to some ex-Super Eagles players I am in contact with, sometimes I speak to Nwankwo Kanu, I speak to Obinna Nsofor, Emmanuel Amuneke who is my coach.

"They said I'm not there but I'm going to be there if I keep working hard, if I keep believing in myself and that's what happened. I was just patient, waiting for the time and working."