Johannesburg - Ivory Coast captain Didier Drogba praised the Nigerian team after they lost 2-1 to them in a 2013 Africa Cup of Nations quarter-final match.
According to the football411.com website, the Elephants were heavily favoured to win this year's tournament after losing to Zambia in the final last year, and with Drogba and company nearing the end of their international careers, it seemed fitting.
A fortuitous strike by Sunday Mba ended that Ivorian fantasy in the 77th minute. Emmanuel Emenike scored first for the Super Eagles with a rocket-like shot in the 42nd minute and Cheik Tiote replied for the Elephants, and that was it for the orange-clad warriors.
Both teams put up an excellent show at the Royal Bafokeng Stadium with Manchester City midfielder Yaya Toure battling intensely with Chelsea anchorman John Obi Mikel, but the credit went to Mba who plies his trade in the Nigerian league.
"I was very impressed with the Super Eagles' performance against us (Ivory Coast). It's proof of hard work, relentlessness and the sign of a world-class team in preparation," Drogba said.
"I don't really see any team that can withstand Nigeria for the rest of the tournament. They keep improving by each game and level of the competition.
"That shows it's a hardworking and resilient outfit. If they must take the trophy home they have to keep working, be creative and challenge any side like they engaged us.
"Wishing for and seeing victory is not enough. I feel this is Nigeria time but they must deserve it by proving it more on the pitch. The fact that the team arrived with a number of home-based players means we have to give them praise because that tells us there is football even within the continent," he said.
"Fans ought to know that football is sometimes funny and bizarre. Sometimes you play well and you lose and others time you don't put up a good game but you win. We did our best, it didn't work out. We're taking responsibility and also thanking fans and asking them to bear with the team that better days are definitely ahead."