Afcon 2019: Mikel rallies ‘inexperienced’ Nigeria

Mikel was key to the West African's continental success in 2013.

Nigeria captain, John Obi Mikel says his teammates are upbeat ahead of their 2019 Africa Cup of Nations opener against Burundi at the Alexandria Stadium Saturday evening.

Out of coach Gernot Rohr’s 23 players for the competition, only the former Chelsea midfielder, Ahmed Musa and Kenneth Omeruo have featured in Africa’s biggest stage before.

Mikel, returning to the squad after a one-year self-imposed sabbatical, asserted that head coach Gernot Rohr chose the right players to compete in the tournament, including a group of young players who should be encouraged to enjoy their first Nations Cup bow.

“The last time we were here we won but we’ve missed out on a few but we are confident. There are just the three of us who have the experience but the blend in the team is good.

“I was always in contact with the team during my one-year off and I knew the team was in good hands and they were great,” Mikel told reporters at Friday’s pre-match press conference.

“Everyone thinks we are favourites but we are not looking at it like that we just want to qualify and then kick on and do great things.”

On the possibility of retiring from the national team after the Afcon, Mikel who made his tournament debut thirteen years ago said: ‘

‘It’s not a bad place to finish! I started here in 2006 and we came third so Egypt has always been good to me.

”This time hopefully we can do better. I’m not 100% sure this is my last one but maybe”.

Mikel has played 87 games for Nigeria and scored six goals during his international career, which began in August 2005.





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