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By Obi Martins Okafor.
It is always a thing of joy and honour to see a Nigerian being celebrated oversees especially in the Sporting sector. Within the last half a decade, no Nigerian sports personality can be compared to the Chelsea FC of England Midfield Maestro, John Obi Mikel, when it comes to consistent International and media lime light. Even with all the rave reviews, he has grown accustomed with while playing for Chelsea FC Mikel still leaves much to be desired in his displays for the Super Eagles of Nigeria. A lot of Nigerian football fans suggest that Mikel has been performing below standards whenever he dons the jersey of Nigeria, but very few have been able to ask to right questions like: what style of play has made him flourish in the Chelsea Team which went on to win the European champions league last season. Or is Mikel a player in the form of Ronaldo and Messi who can take a game upon themselves to ensure victory for his their sides? Let’s give his Chelsea game a closer look; Ramires, Lampard and the rest, who may have any role in the midfield, are good markers. This covers Mikel’s lapses as a loose marker and at the same time makes his passing flourish. Mikel passes the ball in an accurate fashion and this quality has kept him in Chelsea’s first team for over five years now but he is not always effective for the Eagles because he is expected to fight to win balls through tight and close marking. When he puts in his best to do this he burns out early and runs into problem with the pace of the game as Nigerians saw him in the Nations Cup qualifier against Guinea in Abuja where he started walking on the pitch 30 minutes into the game. Against Argentina in a friendly in Bangladesh he once toyed with the ball, Lionel Messi dispossessed him and he never gave a chase and that resulted into a goal against Nigeria. The Chelsea FC coaches know his strength, and that has prompted them utilize him to his fullest capabilities. Since Mikel is one of the best midfielders in European football, the Eagles need to understand his style of play and use him to his optimum best in the already flabby midfield. So Is he indispensable to the Eagles? Until they find a better midfielder, Mikel Obi is a valuable gem.  

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This article was first published on 14th September 2012

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