Super Eagles head coach Gernot Rohr says John Mikel Obi is still part of the team and hinted that he will meet with the experienced midfielder in the coming days to decide on his availability for the 2019 Africa Cup of Nations in Egypt, Completesports.com reports.
Mikel last featured for the three-time African champions in their last group game against Argentina at the 2018 FIFA World Cup in Russia.
The former Chelsea player failed to appear in any of Nigeria’s six games in the qualifiers prompting speculations that he might have decided to quit international football.
“This is the question that I and my team will resolve. I will soon go to see him at @Boro. There are many things to consider but I respect him and what he has done for Nigeria. He remains an important player,'”Rohr stated in an exclusive interview with respected journalist Osasu Obayiuwana on Wednesday.
“He has been away from the team for a year but we qualified for the AFCON without him. His absence, as our captain, has been evident. But he has had to deal with a range of issues, after the World Cup in Russia.”
The German tactician also provided updates on the fitness level of Super Eagles first choice goalkeeper Francis Uzoho who is loan at the Cypriot club Anorthosis Famagusta.
“I have sent Enrico Pionetti, my goalkeeper trainer, to @anorthosisfc, to work on him. At the moment, it’s not, for now, a question of him being number one but of his being one of our three goalkeepers for the AFCON.”
Aside from Mikel and Uzoho, Rohr also have a big decision to make on whether to allow talented youngster Samuel Chukwueze represent Nigeria at the 2019 FIFA U -20 World Cup in Poland next month or include him in his team for the AFCON finals in Egypt.
“He is a great talent and I would like him in my team, although I don’t know if he will be an immediate starter. The challenge, of course, is that he is also wanted for Nigeria’s @fifau20 team going to Poland.
“… I have had a chat with the coach of Villarreal and they don’t want him to exhaust himself at the U-20 WC and the AFCON, so they want him to choose one tournament. We shall see how best we can manage this situation. But no doubt, he’s a talent for my team.”
Rohr for the upteempth time failed to list his team among the favourites for the competition.
“We start our preparations on June 2nd and I think that if all things go well, we will have a good tournament. We must, however, respect every opponent. There is no small team now….”
“I have a young @NGSuperEagles team, full of potential, but we are not the favourite for the AFCON…”
“… We don’t have big players, like Senegal and Egypt, so the @NGSuperEagles must work collectively as a team. This is where our strength lies,”
By Adeboye Amosu