No sentiments about Mikel, says Rohr
• Wearing Eagles No 10 jersey not my priority, Iwobi declares
• Awaziem out of third place game
Super Eagles Coach, Gernot Rohr has advised Nigerians not to attach any form of sentiment if he decides to not feature John Obi Mikel in today’s third place match against Tunisia.
Mikel has not tested action since he was substituted in the game against Madagascar, where Nigeria suffered a 0-2 defeat in their last group match in Alexandria.
But Rohr said at a pre-match conference yesterday at the Al Salam Stadium in Cairo that Mikel could play if he is fit for the game, but ruled out the possibility of handing him a starting shirt. “No sentiment about Mikel. He is not going to start. We came with 23 players to this competition and 21 of them have featured in the games we played so far. We pick players based on their fitness level. If Mikel is fit, he will play, but he is not going to start.”
Mikel has featured in two of Nigeria’s six games so far at the 2019 Africa Cup of Nations in which, and he didn’t complete 90 minutes on both occasions.
He picked up a knee injury in Nigeria’s third group game against the Barea of Madagascar and was initially ruled out for the rest of the competition.
But the former Chelsea midfielder recovered in time from the setback and made the bench in Nigeria’s semi-final defeat to the Desert Foxes of Algeria.
Rohr confirmed, “Mikel picked up an injury in training yesterday and could not train with us.”
Already out of the game is defender, Chidozie Awaziem due to suspension.
Awaziem picked a yellow card late in the game against Algeria, which effectively ruled him out of today’s encounter.
Rohr stated that the team have overcome the shock of the semifinal defeat by Algeria, adding that they have also learnt their lessons for conceding late goals in the competition.
He is also sure that the team will beat Tunisia in today’s third place match at the Al Salam Stadium.
Meanwhile, Alex Iwobi says wearing the Super Eagles’ No 10 jersey after Mikel retires from the team is not his priority. “My main concern is to play for the country whenever I am called upon to do so. Whether I am handed No 10 or No 100; it is not a priority,” Iwobi stated.
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