Alex Iwobi has backed Nigeria to qualify for the World Cup.
The 20-year-old, who became a Nigeria international in 2015, played his first competitive match against Egypt in their African Cup of Nations qualifier. They drew the first leg 0-0 before losing the second 1-0.
However, this defeat has made young Iwobi hungrier for more international football and he’s targeting the World Cup as the next big tournament.
“The Nations Cup is the biggest sporting tournament in Africa, so we were gutted,” he said.
“But as a team we have to look forward and focus on the World Cup and our qualification match.
“It is a tough group for sure, but I don’t think there are any easy groups – it’s international level competition.
“I’m confident we can prevail, we definitely have the players to. If we prepare well, focus and play to the best of our ability I’m sure we will qualify.
“All the teams [in the group] are good teams that have been former AFCON winners, and have players playing at the highest level, so we know we’ll be up against well-prepared teams.”
Since the loss to Egypt, Iwobi has featured in Nigeria’s 1-0 win over Mali and their 3-1 victory over Luxembourg. Although both of these matches were friendlies, it shows improvement, as well as increased game time for the forward, which is what he wants.
“I just want to push on, improve as a player, play more games, score more goals, make more assists and contribute to the team,” he added.
“I don’t like to get ahead of myself, but it is a long season and there are plenty of games, so hopefully I’ll have the chance to do that.”
Iwobi is going from strength with Arsenal, having scored three goals in pre-season alone after finding the net twice in the Premier League in the latter stages of last season. He definitely appears to be in Arsene Wenger’s long-term plans for the first team and I’d be surprised if we didn’t see a lot more of his this coming season, especially if Theo Walcott, once again, fails to live up to expectations.