Super Eagles manager Stephen Keshi has defended his decision to keep Chelsea midfielder, John Obi Mikel, on his team despite the player being a peripheral player at his Chelsea club.
Mikel has not been as influential as hoped by many during Eagles first two 2015 African Cup of Nations (AFCON) qualifying games, which have seen the Nigeria picking up just a single point from two matches against Congo (2-3) and South Africa (0-0).
Mikel clearly has has featured as a regular player at Stamford Bridge since the arrival Nemanja Matic in January and he has only had 23 minutes of action so far this season for the Blues but Keshi remains adamant that the 27 year old player is an important part of the Nigerian national team.
“Just because he is not playing in his team (Chelsea), that does not mean I cannot use him in my team, that’s the coaches’ choice,” Keshi said after Wednesday night’s 0-0 draw with South African soccer team, Bafana Bafana in Cape Town.
“But in my team, if I think that he is in good shape, with the wealth of experience he has, all his years in the Premier League, I think he’s very important for us in the team, and we just have to make the best of the situation, the former Togolese manager concluded.
Nigeria, the reigning African champions are facing an uphill battle to qualify for next year’s continental competition in Morocco after lackluster performance in the first two games of the ‘Group A’ qualification phase.