Has Nigerian Captain Mikel Obi Retired From International Football? Here’s What You Should Know
For the third match in a row, Nigerian captain, John Mikel Obi, has been left out of the Super Eagles squad, and this has led many to wonder if the former Chelsea star has silently retired from international football with officials not in a hurry to make this big announcement!
Mikel, who plays for Chinese side Tianjin Teda, has not played for the Super Eagles since he led the team at the World Cup finals in Russia in June.
It is believed that the 31-year-old told head coach Gernot Rohr that he is not yet ready to return to the Nigerian team.
The excuse was that he was recovering from injury and that was why he was not named for the Super Eagles team for the 2019 Africa Cup of Nations (AFCON) doubleheader qualifier against the Mediterranean Knights of Libya.
He is also not included in the team for the qualifier against the Bafana Bafana of South Africa.
While Nigerians were hopeful that their skipper will be available to the national team for the first time after the world cup, Rohr yet again sidelined him.
In a report by Kwese ESPN, Super Eagles head coach made it clear that the decision not to include him in the team to face South Africa was not entirely his.
While the injured Mikel has fully recovered but is not yet ready to make a return to the team, Rohr said:
“Mikel told me that he will tell me when he will be ready to come back. He didn’t tell me yet. So I wait.“
To further buttress the curiosity on his alleged retirement, last Sunday, he captained his Chinese Super League club Tianjin Teda and even scored his second goal of the season.
Meanwhile, in his attempt to quell the curiosity, the Super Eagles spokesman Toyin Ibitoye said that “Mikel has not retired from international football.”
“He remains the captain of the national team.”
“But the reality of it is that he is not getting any younger. And the positive (from this) is that other players now have a chance to step up in his absence.”