AFCON 2019: Can Mikel Obi Lead Nigeria there and to Glory?

AFCON 2019: Can Mikel Obi Lead Nigeria there and to Glory?

Can John Obi Mikel hand Nigeria another Africa Cup of Nations title?

Mikel Obi was 26 at the time he won his first major African crown in 2013, but under the shadows of two proper Captains in the team.

Vincent Enyeama and Joseph Yobo played pivotal roles on and off the pitch to ensure the young, inexperienced yet determined squad kept their feet up and their heads out of the clouds as they rolled through to the final and third African title.


Some still argue his development didn’t quite go according to plan for a player who was considered second best only to Lionel Messi at the U20s.

It was a fitting send-off from the Africa stage for Yobo, who made his mark in the national team at the 2002 Africa Cup of Nations and subsequently at the World Cup.

He passed the torch on to Enyeama and now it has wittingly and deservedly fallen to Mikel, who must now be the guiding light for yet again another young and inexperienced squad.

AFCON, 2019, Vincent Enyeama, Joseph Yobo

Credit: Getty Images

However, it may not be an easy road for the now 30-year-old to thread. For several months he’s been out recovering from a bowel surgery and hasn’t kicked a football in any competitive capacity for club or Country.

In addition to the steep climb, Nigeria fell flat on its face in the first qualifying match of the Afcon 2019 campaign.

A shocking 2-0 defeat to South Africa now means the team must not drop any more points at home and at least win two matches on the road.

Meanwhile, as harsh as the reality may have appeared after that defeat in Uyo, CAF’s decision to expand the number of participating teams from 16 to 24 for the Afcon 2019 means a lifeline, but one that must be earned.

Mikel himself was not available for that game and it was indeed quite obvious there is no player in his mould or one the Coach is confident enough to entrust with that responsibility.

The Eagles Captain is one of Nigeria’s most decorated player – if not the most – but that reputation is a burden as much as it is envious.

Every time he puts on the colors of the National team, Mikel knows there are expectations that must be actualized.

Some still argue his development didn’t quite go according to plan for a player who was considered second best only to Lionel Messi at the U20s.

And now he has the extra responsibility of being captain of a team that has not qualified for the past two editions of the Afcon.

So, the target is already decided and it is qualification, but Nigeria does not play to add up the numbers at any major tournament – so the fans want to believe.

In 2019, if Nigeria qualifies for the June-July Afcon, Mikel will be 32 and it will be a thunderous encore to a trophy-ladened career if he walks off the stage with the shiny peat that is the Afcon trophy.

But for that to happen the variables and fixed must fall in their respective places, the player must be the leader and brilliant footballer he’s known to be.

If you use the quotes from this content, you legally agree to give www.brila.net the News credit as the source and a backlink to our story. Copyright 2020 Brila Media.

COMMENTS

WORDPRESS: 0
Comodo SSL SiteLock