John Obi Mikel returns to Nigeria squad for 2019 Africa Cup of Nations

Former Chelsea midfielder has not featured for his national team since the World Cup last summer

John Obi Mikel has returned to the Nigeria setup ahead of the 2019 Africa Cup of Nations. Reuters
John Obi Mikel has returned to the Nigeria setup ahead of the 2019 Africa Cup of Nations. Reuters

Nigeria have included former Chelsea midfielder John Obi Mikel in their 25-man provisional squad for next month's Africa Cup of Nations (Afcon).

Mikel, now with Middlesborough after a spell in China with Tianjin Teda, last played for Nigeria at the 2018 World Cup in Russia and missed the qualifying series for the 2019 Afcon.

Mikel met with Nigeria manager Gernot Rohr on Tuesday, and the 65-year-old German said their meeting was a success, opening the door for the midfielder's return.

“We had a good meeting with Obi Mikel and we will do a statement in a few days”, Rohr told SportingLife.

Leicester City's Kelechi Iheanacho and Villarreal youngster Samuel Chukwueze are also in the squad with the latter opting for the African tournament rather than the Fifa U20 World Cup in Poland.

Rohr was in the stands for Leicester's final Premier League game against Chelsea, and while Iheanacho did not make it off the bench, he was left very impressed by his star midfielder Wilfried N'didi.

“I had a good game to see here. Ndidi looked very fit,” Rohr said. “Kelechi [Iheanacho] did not come in to play in the match. I would have loved to see him in action.”

Nigeria will assemble on June 2 to prepare for a pre-tournament friendly against Zimbabwe on June 8 before departing the following day for Egypt.

The Super Eagles will be based at their training camp in the city of Ismailia and tackle Africa's number one-ranked team Senegal in their final pre-tournament friendly June 16.

Nigeria are drawn against Burundi, Guinea and Madagascar in Group B of the Africa Cup of Nations, which kicks off on June 21. Their first match will be against Burundi on June 22.

Nigeria are three-time champions of the Africa Cup of Nations, winning their most recent title in 2013. Cameroon are defending champions having won the 2017 tournament in Gabon.

Published: May 15, 2019 04:11 PM


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