Former Nigeria international, Emmanuel Okocha has lauded Gernot Rohr’s move in ensuring the Super Eagles captain, John Obi Mikel is available for selection as they prepare for the African Cup of Nations tournament in June.
The former Chelsea star had embarked on a self-imposed exile from the national team since last year’s World Cup, stressing the need to get himself in good condition and shape before returning, and the 49-year-old feels the German tactician pulled off a masterstroke by convincing him to return at this point in time.
Okocha waxed lyrical about Mikel, and said he is the best midfielder Nigeria has to offer at the moment.
“The bringing back of Mikel is the best thing that has happened to Nigeria at the moment. He is the key, knows when to attack and when to pull back,” he said.
“You can look back with fond memories of how well he did against Croatia. In spite of the emotional backdrop he was suffering at that time as a result of the kidnap of his father, he still stood his ground.
“Mikel Obi is to Nigeria what Messi is to Argentina.”
When quizzed on his take on his nephew, Arsenal’s Alex Iwobi and the positivism he can bring to the team, the former Enugu Rangers star favoured a midfield partnership of the 23-year-old, Mikel and John Ogu.
“I am I not selecting who plays or who does not on the day but I think the mentality he has garnered playing for Arsenal can prove decisive
“Iwobi is good and he has made his mark on the team, he could play alongside [Mikel], John Ogu and the Leicester City guy, [Wilfred] Ndidi are also the best options for our midfield. Not little boys playing our midfield.
“Etebo (Oghenekaro) seems less dependable in defending attacks and is culpable there. Our midfield should be as strong as our defence.
Okocha also went ahead to tip AFCON Group F contenders,Cameroon as one of the countries to watch out for in Egypt.
“Cameroon is going to be at this edition, they are coming with full force and they don’t joke when squaring up against Nigeria. ”