Super Eagles captain, John Mikel Obi, has been harping on the great success the team will become at the time of the next FIFA World Cup four years from now. And in this interview granted at the Krestovsky Stadium Saint Petersburg Russia on Tuesday June 26 2018 after the Super Eagles lost 2-1 to La Albiceleste of Argentina to exit the 2018 World Cup, Mikel also shares what he holds as positive takeaways from the match. By
by NNAMDI EZEKUTE
How would you appraise the performance of the Super Eagles against Argentina?
It’s sad to go out of the World Cup this way. We did so well, we gave everything in the game, but just two lapses and we conceded the goals. I think that the positive thing we should take out from this match is that we did very well – we did all we could do. We were so close to going through but it didn’t happen.
I hope that in the next four years this great team, these young players can do much better.
What do you say of Messi’s presence in the match and the difference it made for Argentina?
I think what an amazing footballer he is. I think that he was pretty much quiet throughout the game, but then he had his moments.
We did exactly what we wanted to do in the match but Argentina is a great team, with great players. We had a lion share of the game. It’s just a shame to go out this way.
What do you think about referee’s performance in the match, especially his decision not to award a second penalty to Nigeria after Rojo’ s header bounced off his own arm?
I think it should have been the second penalty against Argentina. I believe that was a penalty. I don’t understand how it wasn’t a penalty. I asked the referee why he didn’t award us the penalty. I asked him ‘did the ball touch his hand? He said yes, and I asked him again, ‘so why didn’t you give a penalty? He said that he didn’t know. You don’t know? You should know because you’re the referee. You should give the penalty.
This is a game we could have won. We could have scored a second penalty goal. But unfortunately, it has happened. But the VAR? This is what happens.
What do you think about the VAR system?
(Laughs) Arŕrrrgh, I don’t want to make comment about it. Big country, I don’t know. Small country? I don’t want to go there.
You think it has something do do with being a small country?
I have nothing to say about it. You can do that mathematics yourself. That’s all I can say.
How do feel personaĺly about losing to Messi again?
It’s not a competition between me and Messi. I will say we came close to getting a win agaist Argentina at the World Cup, but it didn’t happen in the end. It would have been amazing for us as a team if we had won and advanced to the next round. I should say that luck wasn’t on our side and was on Argentina’s side, and we couldn’t go through.
What do you think of Argentina’s chances of going far in the tournament?
I think they have a good team. They’re going to do well. They’ve now gone through the First Round and they will feel relieved and play better football. I think they are a great side.
We managed to keep them quiet. We managed to do our job in the game. I’m so proud of the boys’ performance against Argentina. The young players have done very well. Congratulations to the team. We just have to kèep going.
What would you say of Ighalo’s contribution in the game?
Ighalo is an amazing striker and a great guy. He is an experienced player. He knows he can lift himself up with great play. Yes, he missed one or two chances, but he actually did well when he came on. He looked threatening. He knows how to deal with the situations.
How long more will your fans and Nigeria supporters see you playing for the national team?
(laughs) I don’t know. I will always serve my country. We will see what happens.