How Mikel Obi tried to get Alex Iwobi dropped from Super Eagles starting XI during AFCON 2019 -


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Wednesday, 25 September 2019

How Mikel Obi tried to get Alex Iwobi dropped from Super Eagles starting XI during AFCON 2019

Former Super Eagles captain Mikel Obi tried to get Alex Iwobi dropped from the starting XI during the 2019 Africa Cup of Nations (AFCON), a new report has revealed. 

Mikel Obi and Iwobi played together only once during the tournament in Egypt and it has been revealed that the then captain wanted his teammate dropped because he was encroaching in his space on the pitch.
It was British-Nigerian journalist Osasu Obayiuwana who reported the incident after a conversation with Super Eagles coach Gernot Rohr at his base in Bordeaux.
Obayiuwana revealed that Mikel made the demand after the first game of the tournament. 
The veteran midfielder played as the N0. 10 in that game before he was taken off in the 58th minute while Iwobi played from the left side of the Super Eagles attack. 
The then Super Eagles captain was however not pleased with how Iwobi was cutting into the middle and felt that his teammate was ‘cramping his playing space and style' and wanted him dropped although Rohr refused the demand.

The drop

The fallout also made it easy for Rohr to drop Mikel from the starting XI after two underwhelming performances in the group stage.
According to Obayiuwana, Rohr had found it difficult to use Mikel as a bit-part player in Egypt even when the midfielder had joined the Super Eagles camp in bad physical condition.
“After (Mikel’s) top-grade performance with (Middlesbrough) in the championship, it was thought that he would exhibit the same form during the (AFCON 2019),” Obayiuwana narrated on Twitter.
But despite engaging a personal trainer after the season, Mikel’s physical conditioning dropped.
“This was quite evident in Asaba, during the one-week I spent with the (Super Eagles), before they left for Egypt. 
But he was always going to be a part of the squad because Gernot sees him as integral to it, even when he’s not 100% fit.”
However, after Mikel’s underwhelming performance in Nigeria’s first game and the fallout over Iwobi, Rohr now had good reasons to drop his captain from the starting XI.
The former Chelsea star was given another opportunity in Nigeria’s third group game but he performed poorly again. He didn’t play another game at AFCON 2019. Iwobi started all other games in the N0. 10 role.
The drop in (Mikel’s) physical conditioning - as seen from the group (AFCON 2019) games he played -forced Rohr and the staff to take the decision that he wouldn’t have more than a bit-part role during the tournament,” Obayiuwana also said. 

Respect for Mikel

Despite the incident, Rohr had nothing but praise for Mikel and said it was important that the midfielder finished his Super Eagles career on a good note. 
He served the Super Eagles very well, for many years. It was very important that he finished his career with Nigeria in a good way. I have nothing but respect for him and how we worked together,” Rohr is quoted to have said by Obayiuwana. 
Yes, there were some difficult moments with (Mikel) during the tournament. But it’s normal for players and coaches to have these things. That’s why I’m the manager. I have to manage.” 
While Mikel played only two games at AFCON 2019, Iwobi featured in all Nigeria’s matches and scored a goal. 
Mikel retired from the Super Eagles after AFCON 2019 and announced his decision on social media a day after Nigeria beat Tunisia in the third-place match

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