On Monday 29th October 2018, Super Eagles technical adviser, Gernot Rohr, released a 23-man list for the 2019 African Cup of Nations second leg qualifier against South Africa, and skipper, Mikel Obi was left out.
Quite a number of eyebrows have been raised at the omission. However, some think the decision to keep Mikel out was, in fact, long overdue.
Since he captained the senior team to the 2018 FIFA World Cup in Russia, Mikel is yet to make a return to international duty for Nigeria.
Prior to Rohr’s big reveal on Monday, Mikel was left out of the squad’s previous AFCON matches on the grounds of his fitness. However, his performance and goal for Chinese side, Tianjin Teda, on Sunday, is proof that the 31-year old is now in good playing shape — hence, the backlash against Rohr on the player’s omission.
Contrary to popular opinion, former Super Eagles international, Victor Ikpeba, has lauded Rohr for the hard decision to keep Mikel out of the Eagle’s next set of games, enthusing that, the young players in the team will do just fine without him.
“Mikel has been a fantastic player for the national team for more than a decade. And I understand that the skipper and the coach have a great relationship but we don’t know why he was not invited.
“But this is great for the team and great for the young set of players that they can do without Mikel and without Victor Moses. The team has been brilliant without them and the coach has been apt with the decision.”