Nigeria head coach Gernot Rohr has all but ruled out Super Eagles captain John Mikel Obi from the team’s third place clash with Tunisia in the 2019 Africa Cup of Nations (AFCON) on Wednesday.
Mikel, 32, is attending perhaps his last competitive tournament with Nigeria’s senior national team but his hopes of a valedictory appearance on Wednesday seem to have hit the rocks after a relapse of his knee injury.
ACLSports Chief Football Writer Fisayo Dairo asked Rohr in the team’s pre-match press conference about the likelihood of Mikel’s appearance in this game but the German states it is near impossible.
“About our captain, we want to play with our fittest players tomorrow,” began Rohr.
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“He had a little injury yesterday in training so he could not make the training session. So it is not sure he will be able to play.”
Mikel took a long sabbatical from the team after last summer’s 2018 FIFA World Cup Russia and his invitation back to the team was met by mixed reactions from Nigerians. Rohr believes that Mikel has already done well for himself having played in two games.
Rohr continued: “He has already played, he led the team in the first match, he led the team in the third match and he did well. It is already a good AFCON for him, you know that he was not here for one year and inviting him for this tournament was already a big question.”
Aside Mikel, Nigeria will be without defender Chidozie Awaziem due to card suspension after his caution late in the 1-2 defeat to Algeria on Sunday. The game will commence at 9:00PM local time (8:00PM in Nigeria) at the Al Salam Stadium, Cairo on Wednesday.
Fisayo Dairo, reporting from Cairo