Nigeria’s head coach, Stephen Keshi has talked of his number ten, Chelsea’s midfielder John Obi Mikel and praised the playmaker’s professionalism on the pitch. Despite calls from many quarters claiming national team coaches are afraid to bench the player Keshi has always played the player and not substituted him.
Keshi had in an interview with Supersport said of Mikel: “He’s a fighter. He hates losing with a passion. “In training sessions, it’s the same always professional and always serious minded.”
“I hate to say this but it seems some Nigerians don’t like thinking about the past because the Mikel that is criticized so much today is the same Mikel that was praised by almost all Nigerians during the 2013 AFCON in South Africa,” said Keshi.
“Has he suddenly become a bad footballer? I think we need to understand that no human being can perform at the same level everyday.
“We must learn to be patient with our players and coaches. I don’t have any problems with Mikel or any of my players,” he said.
Keshi also revealed he wasn’t afraid of cutting the player, saying that he had done it before.
He said: “That is not true. I left Mikel out of the team for seven months before I recalled him,” the 52-year-old said.
“Nobody is bigger than the team. If you are not giving one hundred and ten percent, you will have no place in the team.
Mikel has been sidelined by Blues manager, Jose Mourinho since he lost his place to Nemanja Matic last season.