Super Eagles’ skipper, John Obi Mikel has stated that his main focus is on winning the 2019 Africa Cup of Nations trophy in Egypt come July 20 when the competition will come to an end.
The former Chelsea ace also happy that he has blended really well with his Super Eagles teammates once again despite going on a sabbatical which lasted close to a year.
Mikel attended the Super Eagles press
conference at the team’s hotel in Asaba on Thursday and was quizzed about returning to
England to join Middlesbrough in the January transfer window.
The former Chelsea player also spoke about the Super Eagles’ young players and that he was always in touch with manager, Gernot Rohr
even when he was not part of the Nigerian national team.
“Since I was not obviously here, the team did well, the coach did well, like you said, there is a lot of new players,” Mikel said at the press conference.
“We qualified comfortably. if you look at the Nations Cup qualification, we did well even without me by topping the group and
we also scored a lot of goals.
“I think it is a not a surprise how well we have done but obviously, the players that have come in, the spirit of the team was still there, you could see that is why they played well.
“Going to Middlesbrough, obviously I came back from China, I had two years there, I had a great time. I have no regret going there. I came to Middlesbrough, played few games.
The team (Super Eagles) did well, now I am back here to help them. My focus now is to help the team win another Nations Cup. I know only few players that are here that have managed to win but, my focus is to help this young team win the Nations Cup.”
Mikel also corroborates Gernot Rohr’s position that only the fittest team will win the AFCON.
“Well, I think obviously, fitness is going to play a big part in this tournament, it always does when it comes to African football. Fitness always plays 80 percent part on who wins the tournament.
”If you look back at 2013 when we won it, we were one of the fittest teams, we were well drilled, we put in the hard work during the camp, we knew exactly what we were doing. We were really fit.
”That’s what we are doing now, training twice a day. If you want to win this trophy you have to do things like that.
”I am happy that every player in this team want to do it, we want to achieve the same thing, we want to be in the final and win the tournament but we also need to know we are not the outright favourite s, we have to remain cool, calm, just do what we have to do, not look at other teams.
If we do that, we’ll keep winning games.
“Experience also plays a big part, sometimes youthfulness also plays a big part.
”We have got a very good mixture in this team that’s going to help us. We have a very young team, they are all fit.”
Mikel, 32, is a onetime Nations Cup winner, having picked up the title with the Super Eagles in South Africa in 2013 under the tutelage of late Stephen