Mikel Obi has stated in clear terms he is ready to lead the Super Eagles to the 2019 Africa Cup Of Nations in Egypt.
The 32-year-old last featured for the three-time African champions at last year’s World Cup and has missed the Eagles last seven games.
“I’m really happy to be back in the team and I’m happy with the progress made so far,” Mikel said during Thursday’s media parley with reporters in Asaba.
“I fitted in seamlessly because it was not a problem for me as I have great understanding of the team and the coach very well. I needed rest because I was struggling with injuries but now I’m ready to lead the team again.
“The best team will win the AFCON and we are up for it as we are training twice a day.”
Also, Brighton defender Leon Balogun, who is poised to feature in Saturday’s international friendly against Zimbabwe, admitted that it would be tough for him to reclaim his place in the team due to his limited game time at club level.
Balogun made only 10 appearances across all competition and scoring once for the Seagulls last season.
“Injuries are part of the game, I don’t know when I picked up my last big injury, there are players out there who constantly missed games, tournaments on a very high level, much bigger injuries than myself,” Balogun said at the media parley.
“I think there is always pressure. We are actually five centre-backs if you count Semi Ajayi because he is also very capable of playing in that position and also ChidozieAwaziem.”
Of course, there is pressure, if you compare me to Kenneth (Omeruo) and William (Troost-Ekong); they definitely had more game time this season, which is mentally an advantage…But definitely, I know I have to do more than them because there are the two players who had great seasons, both of them very, very well.”
Again, it is the coach’s decision at the end. It is about us a team, I am not a player who will make any kind of trouble.”
If this should be the case, I will definitely be disappointed but I think everyone wants to win the trophy, that must be our ultimate goal.”
“I have never had any serious injuries, you will always see me back on the pitch after one month, and I have only been out for 14 days maximum. My injury problems, I will say is part of the game, it happens.
“Five years I have been part of the Eagles now, I have proven that I have overcome injuries and I am always doing my job diligently for the team.”