I Cannot Drop Mikel Obi For Anyone – Coach Keshi

I Cannot Drop Mikel Obi For Anyone – Coach Keshi

By Joseph Emmanuel | Staff Reporter on November 4, 2014
Nigeria's Super Eagles Coach Stephen Keshi (Photo Credit: Pius Utomi Ekpei/AFP)

Despite condemnation against the Chelsea midfielder, Mikel Obi, Coach Stephen Keshi has maintained that the midfielder remains a viatl part of the Super Eagles squad.

Stephen Keshi has praised John Obi Mikel for his spiritedness and courage despite calls and challenged from various quarters claiming national team coaches are afraid to bench the player.

Mikel had a poor World Cup outing as Nigeria lost 2-0 to France in the second round where he was outplayed  by the Frenchman, Paul Pogba in midfield.

His reportedly unproductive  impact in the Super Eagles’ 2015 Africa Cup of Nations qualification campaign has also been a premise for critics to maintain that he is no longer up to the task, with the team winning just one match in four games.

Keshi however has not dropped or substituted the player despite his dwindling performances with both club and country, he spoke glowingly in defense of the midfielder instead.

“Mikel brings a lot of professionalism to the team, he’s a fighter. He hates losing with a passion.

“In training sessions, it’s the same – always professional and always serious minded.

“I hate to say this but it seems some Nigerians don’t like thinking about the past because the Mikel that is criticized so much today is the same Mikel that was praised by almost all Nigerians during the 2013 AFCON in South Africa,” said noted.

“Has he suddenly become a bad footballer? I think we need to understand that no human being can perform at the same level every day.

“I am not just talking about football but every sphere of human endeavour. No one can perform at the same level every day. You have good and bad days.

“We must learn to be patient with our players and coaches. I don’t have any problems with Mikel or any of my players,” he said.

Keshi also discards allegation that he was afraid of benching the Chelsea midfielder even though he is regularly placed on the side-lines by Chelsea’s manager Jose Mourinho.

“That is not true. I left Mikel out of the team for seven months before I recalled him,” he said.

“Nobody is bigger than the team. If you are not giving one hundred and ten percent, you will have no place in the team.

“All the players know this and that is how it has been since I took over in 2011,” Keshi added.

Super Eagles are schedule to play the Red Devils on Saturday, November 15, 2014 and Bafana Bafana on Wednesday, November 19, 2014 in Uyo.

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