Chelsea midfielder John Obi Mikel has been named the new Super Eagles skipper ahead of Friday’s 2017 AFCON qualifiers against the Pharaohs of Egypt, 366football can confirm.
Mikel who is one of the longest serving player in the Eagles’ set-up replaces Ahmed Musa who was installed by the former Eagles handler Sunday Oliseh days before Vincent Enyeama called it quit with the Super Eagles.
Oliseh back in October dropped 101 caps goalkeeper, Vincent Enyeama as the captain of the Super Eagles, handing the armband to the CSKA Moscow forward who has held the post until Mikel’s appointment on Thursday. Musa has now been named the vice captain.
The Chelsea enforcer represented the Nigeria under-20 team at the 2005 FIFA World Youth Championship and won the Silver Ball for the second-best player at the tournament (behind Lionel Messi) as the Africans finished runner-up to Argentina.
He made his debut for the Nigeria senior team on 17 August 2005, when he came on as a second-half substitute in a 1–0 friendly win over Libya. He did not play for the national team again prior to being named in the squad for the 2006 Africa Cup of Nations.
In Nigeria’s first group game, against Ghana, Mikel was an unused substitute. However, he was introduced into the second game against Zimbabwe early in the second half. Within ten minutes of coming on, he had supplied both the corner that resulted in Christian Obodo heading the game’s opening goal, and scored Nigeria’s second goal. He made his first international start in Nigeria’s final group game, a 2–1 victory over Senegal.
On 5 June 2010, Mikel was ruled out of the 2010 FIFA World Cup in South Africa due to injury. He had been struggling to recover from a knee problem after undergoing surgery in May, though there were also reports that an ankle injury was to blame for Mikel’s withdrawal.
At the 2013 Africa Cup of Nations, Mikel was a key player for Nigeria as they went on to win their fifth continental title. He was named by the Confederation of African Football (CAF) in the team of the tournament alongside teammates Vincent Enyeama, Efe Ambrose, Victor Moses and Emmanuel Emenike.
Mikel made his FIFA World Cup debut during the 2014 tournament in Brazil, earning a man of the match award in the Super Eagles’ opening game against Iran and helping the team to reach the knockout stage for the first time since 1998.