Super Eagles coach, Gernot Rohr, has explained why he decided to ignore team captain, John Mikel Obi, from the Cameroun 2019 AFCON qualifier against the Bafana Bafana of South Africa.
Mikel was left out in the matches against Seychelles and Libya, which the Eagles won. The decision by Rohr to exclude the China-based midfielder from the cracker against South Africa is fueling speculations in some quarters that Mikel have retired from national duty.
But Rohr explained yesterday that he decided to leave out Mikel in his list of invited players for the Bafana Bafana showdown to enable him concentrate in his Chinese club, which is struggling in the league.
Speaking through the Eagles media Officer, Toyin Ibitoye yesterday, Rohr noted that Mikel still remain part of the Super Eagles team despite not being invited for the South Africa tie and the Uganda friendly.
While the cracker against the Bafana Bafana will hold at the FNB Stadium, Johannesburg on Saturday, November 17, the friendly against the Cranes of Ugada will hold at the Stephen Keshi Stadium, Asaba on November 20.
Nigeria currently top Group E with nine points. Victory in the top-of-the-table encounter will automatically send the Eagles to the finals in Cameroun, with the second ticket in Group E to be down to a fierce call between the Bafana and Libya.
The Super Eagles will fly from Johannesburg to Asaba on 18th November for the friendly with the Cranes. Ibitoye stated that Rohr was in constant communication with Mikel, saying that there was no love lost between the Eagles manager and player.
"Mikel is still part of the Super Eagles. The rumours making the rounds that he is gradually withdrawing from the national team is not true. Rorh did not invite him in the games against Seychelles and Libya because of Injury. Now that he is playing for his club, Rohr decided to allow him to focus on his Chinese club that is struggling in the league. Rohr exempted Mikel from the AFCON qualifier on good intention," he stated.