CAIRO – Super Eagles captain John Mikel Obi may have played his last game for the national side after coach Gernot Rohr confirmed that the midfielder will miss Sunday’s 2019 Africa Cup of Nations third-place match against Tunisia with an injury.
The 32-year-old who only returned to the national side for the Nations Cup having not featured since the loss to Argentina in the 2018 World Cup had earlier confirmed he would be calling it quits after the tournament in Egypt.
But it appears that the 2-0 loss to Madagascar where he was substituted for Alex Iwobi would be his last game for the national side after Rohr said in Tuesday’s pre-match press conference that the midfielder who has made two appearances in the AFCON picked up an injury on Monday which has kept him from training and ruled out of the game tomorrow.
“We want to play with our fittest players tomorrow, he had an injury yesterday in the training, so he could not make the training session and it’s not sure that he will be able to play unfortunately,” Rohr said.
Nigeria’s coach said regardless of how his tournament has ended, Obi can exit knowing he’s had a good tournament.
“He has a good tournament,” Rohr said. “He led the team in the first match (against Burundi) and the third match (against Madagascar) and he did well, so, it’s already a good AFCON for him.”
Rohr implied that Obi ought to feel grateful for having made the Nations Cup squad and also shed more light on the background that led to the decision to recall the player who had stayed away from the team for a year.
The Franco-German revealed that Obi’s willingness to accept to be part of the team “without any conditions” was key to him being accepted back into the national team fold.
“He was not coming since one year, and to invite him for this tournament was already a big question because other players who participated in the qualifiers could not come.
“So, we decided to invite him because he accepted to come without any conditions.”
Obi has enjoyed a long and stellar career with the national side earning 81 caps in the process and was part of the side that won the 2013 Africa Cup of Nations in South Africa.
His first outing at an AFCON came in 2006 in Egypt and so has his last.