Mikel Obi Looks To AFCON Glory As Nigeria Captain Plays Last Tournament
The Super Eagles of Nigeria is once again hoping to repeat the 2013 feat at the AFCON 2019 in Egypt, when they won the tournament in South Africa under the leadership and guidance of the late Stephen Keshi as coach.
Away from that glorious win, all attention shifts to the Captain of the national team, John Mikel Obi who disclosed a couple of days ago that the 2019 AFCON would be his last for his country.
Obi said having played and won trophies, it was time to leave the stage for younger players.
He noted that he was mostly in the team at the ongoing tournament in Egypt to make sure the young players are on the right track.
Obi has had a glorious football career and his presence in the super eagles team has no doubt boosted morale and confidence of his younger compatriots.
“It’s been an amazing ride for me in the national team,” Mikel told Sports journalists.
“Obviously winning the Nations Cup in South Africa was the high point, that’s why I want to help this young team to hopefully achieve their dreams
“Thirteen years I think is enough. I’ve won trophies, I’ve had a lot of amazing time. I think it’s time for these young guys to carry on.
“I’m mostly here in Egypt to support the young guys and make sure they’re on the right track.
“I think my presence is always important for them, hopefully I can finish with the trophy.”
Even as he looks to AFCON glory before exiting the team, the question on the minds of Nigerian football lovers whether Obi can repeat South Africa 2013 with the current team.
For the record, Obi, 32 has won a total of 89 caps for Nigeria, playing for them in the past two World Cups and helping the team win the trophy in 2013.
He also helped Nigeria finish third at the 2006 and 2010 Nations Cups.
He has made two appearances for his country at the ongoing tournament in Egypt, but missed their last-16 tie through injury as Nigeria secured a quarter-final date against South Africa with a 3-2 win over bitter rivals Cameroon.
Now Mikel is determined to play a part in Nigeria’s quest for a fourth continental title.
“If I’m fit, I’d love to play in the quarterfinal, but no need to rush,” he added.
“Hopefully if we can make it to the semi-finals I’ll probably be ready then and help the team if I’m needed.
A finalist with the youth side at the under-20 World Cup in 2005, the former Chelsea player believes he has had a successful run for the West African nation.
“Obviously winning the Nations Cup in South Africa was the high point, that’s why I want to help this young team to hopefully achieve their dreams,” he said.
“If we are able to win it here, I’ll be proud and they’ll be proud, then they can carry on from here.”
Recall also that he was also one of Nigeria’s three over-age players as the African side won a bronze medal at the 2016 Olympics in Rio.
He further vowed to make this year’s tournament one to remember for Nigeria and believes his presence in the squad could be a crucial factor in their bid for success.