Babangida: Mikel Should Change Roles

Babangida: Mikel Should Change Roles

–Ex-international advocates a Change of role For Chelsea star

Former Nigeria international, Tijani Babangida has called for a change of position for Chelsea’s John Obi Mikel in the Super Eagles if they are to get the best out of him.


Mikel has been playing an advanced midfield role for Nigeria ever since he made his debut in a friendly against Libya in 2006, thanks to his stellar showings in that role during his U-17 and U-20 days.

But he seems to have lost that attacking spark since his move to Chelsea, and Babangida thinks it’s high time the Eagles’ coach starts playing him in a more familiar role.


“I think we should start playing him in a more familiar role. The role he plays at Chelsea, which is in the holding midfield position,” he said.

“He doesn’t seem to be able to function effectively in a play making role as he used to, so maybe he should get a more familiar role.”

Mikel has been hugely criticised in Nigeria for his often lethargic performances and failing to offer any creative spark, which even forced his Eagles teammate, Nosa Igiebor to come to his defence.

“It seems best at this point to have him play in holding midfield. Maybe we’ll get the best out of him there,” he opined.

Meanwhile, the former Ajax Amsterdam of Holland player has advised that more creative midfielders should be scouted for the Super Eagles.

“The coaches must get more creative midfielders and invite them to the team. We have been lacking in that area for years now and we really need to get these sorts of players,’ he added.

Manchester City’s Kelechi Iheanacho has constantly been touted as a possible replacement for Mikel in that role, but it remains to be seen if he’ll finally get his chance next month against Sudan.

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  • SoccerInNigeria 7 years ago

    Tigani Babangida thanks for your comments. I respect your points. It surprises me that in a country of over 150 million people, Nigeria cannot find 1 creative midfielder to do a decent job in Midfield, yet the Congolese Midfielder Dore(Number 10 Jersey) who plays in Bulgaria did a wonderful job and made Mikel and Onazi look like amateurs.

    Nigeria has Iheanacho(we all know what he can do), Nigeria has Chuks Aneke(a creative midfielder) an Arsenal product that has played all the games for his Top flight Belgian club in the Europa cup and Belgian League. Aneke has played over 70 games in England and has scored at least 23 goals from Midfield during his time in England and Belgium so far. Nigeria has Sone Aluko.

    Keshi continues to use Oduamadi(who plays in the Italian lower leagues) so why cant he bring in Iheanacho or Chuks Aneke to play in the midfield department his team is lacking. If Congo can benefit from a creative Midfield player like Dore whose time in Europe has been in Lower league French clubs and a Bulgarian team, why cant Keshi Benefit from the creative skills and intricate passing abilities of Iheanacho and Chuks Aneke. There is no player in the Current Eagles team that is better than Iheanacho and Chuks Aneke in the creative department of Midfield.

    Emenike has not scored a goal in the last 12 games he has played for Nigeria(mainly due to poor service from midfield). Yet Keshi has found no genuine striking alternative or Creative player. Nigeria has won only 1 game in the last 11 games since qualifying for the 2014 World cup. This is very poor.

  • HABYEM 7 years ago

    Good contribution from ex-Nigeria player, the best left footer so far in the history of Super Eagle. If your suggestion can be welcome it will add a possible flavor to the Team

  • Sam Oged 7 years ago

    I carefully read all up here and I respect each and everyone’s view. But one thing must be remembered, Siasia was the person that detected that Mikel is highly useful and creative (2005 & 2006). Mikel is not a boxt to box Midfeilder so he is most useful up front. Remember in 2005 and 06 Apam and Keita were the one doing the dirty jobs for Mikel, leaving him with the duty of creativity and spraying of passes.

    Same thing with Onazi and Mba at the past AFCON AND We all saw him like a giant. Azeez can not play like Mba cos he does not have the work rate and defensive ability, yet Keshi dumped Mba for Azeez (No testing). dropped John Ogu for Reuben Gabriel.

    If you want to see the best of Mikel, give him two defensive midfielder: let one be a little bit offensive (Roamer) and the other to sit deep.

    That very man that does the dirty job for Emenike, Ideye was left out for Nwofor or Ameobi. Can they play for Emenike as Ideye often does?