Super Eagles Head Coach, Gernot Rohr and his assistants will in the next couple of days decide on whether to extend a valedictory chance to Captain of the team, John Mikel Obi at the next Africa Cup of Nations scheduled to hold this summer in Egypt.
Since after the World Cup in Russia last June, the Middlebrough midfielder has not been part of the Nigerian senior national team. Mikel played no part in Eagles qualification for the 32nd AFCON.
The Franco-German tactician told top British-Nigerian reporter, Osasu Obayiuwana on phone yesterday that he was going to have a meeting with his technical assistants very soon on whether Mikel should be part of the Nigerian party to Egypt.
“This is the question that I and my team will resolve. I will soon go to see him at Middlesbrough. There are many things to consider but I respect him (Mikel) and what he has done for Nigeria, he remains an important player,” observed the gaffer.
Rohr however admitted that since Mikel did not play any role in Eagles qualification, it was important for him to have a heart-to- heart talk with him before making any decision.
“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,” stressed the coach.
Rohr who is a fervent believer in Nigeria’s first choice goalkeeper to the last World Cup in Russia, Francis Uzoho, was however hesitant in confirming the place of the Anorthosis FC of Cyprus on-loan player in the Egypt bound team.
He admitted dispatching his goalkeeper trainer to work with Uzoho in Cyprus.
“I have sent Enrico Pionetti, my goalkeeper trainer to Anorthosis FC to work on him. At the moment, it is not a question of him being number one but of his being one of our three goalkeepers for the AFCON.”
In line with the wishes of Nigerian ball fans calling for the inclusion of Villarreal forward, Samuel Chukwueze, in Super Eagles final squad for AFCON 2019, Rohr said he would have wished to have the exciting lad in his party.
“He (Chukwueze) 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 by the Under-20 team going to Poland for the FIFA World Cup…
“I have had a chat with the coach of Villarreal and they don’t want him to exhaust himself at the U-20 World Cup 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 is a talent for my team,” concludes Rohr who warned Nigerians that Eagles are not favourites for the title.
“I have a young Super Eagles team full of potential but we are not the favorites for the AFCON. We don’t have big players like Senegal and Egypt, so the Super Eagles must work collectively as a team. This is where our strength lies.”