Days after Super Eagles forward Victor Moses announced his retirement from the national team, there have been reports that the former Chelsea man, Mikel Obi will be following in his footsteps soon.
Mikel made his first club appearance for Tianjin Teda since Nigeria was ousted from the Russia 2018 World Cup in a 1-1 draw against away Jiangsu Suning FC.
Though his club could not make maximum points, the skipper who played fulltime as a defensive midfielder was rated his side’s most active player on the pitch during the encounter.
In reply to the news making the rounds that he too will soon leave the national team to focus on his career with the Chinese side, Tianjin, Mikel debunked the rumors, stating that he has no plans of leaving the Nigeria national team anytime soon or in the nearest future.
“Mikel is not done yet with the national team. He will still play for Nigeria for the foreseeable future. When the time for retirement comes it won’t be because of the departure of another player. For now, he is still interested in playing for Nigeria,” he said.
Meanwhile, Tianjin Teda coach Uli Stielike has dismissed any possible chance that Mikel will exit the club before the expiration of his contract at the end of this season. Nonetheless, the German ex-international also admitted that Mikel’s chances in his starting lineup are entirely dependent on the recovery of Brazilian star, Jonathan.
“I don’t know about this news, and I am not interested. We only want to focus on this year’s league. As for whether Mikel will play, it depends on whether Jonathan can recover.”
His decision to leave Mikel out was consequent on the guidelines of the Chinese Super League on foreign players quota per match (4 foreign players per team and 3 per match). Stielike picked Ghana’s Acheampong alongside Germany’s Bastian and Jonathan as the three foreigners in his squad until a stroke of ill-luck on Jonathan paved the way for Mikel.
Feature image: pulse.ng
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