The New Technical adviser of the Super Eagles, Gernot Rohr has revealed the rationale behind John Mikel Obi’s current travails at English Premier League club, Chelsea.
The current Super Eagles captain, John Mikel Obi has yet to make a substitute appearance for Chelsea in all competitions this season despite featuring fleetingly for the Stamford Bridge club in pre-season.
Rohr has now explained that Mikel has failed to play competitively for Chelsea so far this season because the club’s manager, Antonio Conte, “is punishing him” for representing Nigeria at the 2016 Olympic Games in Rio de Janeiro.
Mikel was Nigeria’s captain at the 2016 Olympic Games, impressing as the “Dream Team” won the country’s only medal, a Bronze in Rio.
“I spoke about this with Mikel and also the club’s technical director (Michael Emenalo). Mikel is training very well and he plays games in training with the big players at Chelsea.
“There may be a reason why Mikel is not playing for Chelsea right now and that reason is because he played for Nigeria at the (2016) Olympic Games.
“He was punished for that his coach “I cannot penalize a player who loves his country and shows that he loves the green jersey,” Rohr said at a press conference yesterday ahead of today’s FIFA World Cup qualifier between Algeria and Nigeria in Uyo, Akwa Ibom State.
Rohr then hinted that the Chelsea man is certain to begin today against the Fennec Foxes. The trainer, however, explained that he is not sure if Mikel will play the whole game or be substituted at some point against the Algerians.
“He is here with us and he is fit and i hope he can play for 90 minutes against Algeria, but if it is impossible, we shall see.
“He is a big player so if he tells me on Saturday he can play for 90 minutes, great but if he says he cannot, then i will also listen to him.“If he is substituted, we have alternative players who can come in for us so it is not really a problem for us.
“I have seen Mikel in the training sessions and he is okay and fit.
“He played a lot of games at the beginning of the season at the Olympic Games and has also competed for 2 games with us (Super Eagles) against Tanzania and Zambia