NEW Super Eagles coach Gernot Rohr has decided to give skipper Mikel Obi a free playmaking role in midfield today for Nigeria’s African Nations Cup qualifier against Tanzania in Uyo today.
During the last Olympic Games, Mikel player just behind the strikers, acting as playmaker, in contrast to his defensive midfield role at his club Chelsea. For today’s game, Mr Rohr had considered getting Mikel to revert back to his traditional role but opted against it, choosing instead to allow him be the team’s creative spark.
During the Brazil Olympics, Mikel, the Team Nigeria skipper scored a goal and prompted several attacking forays at Rio 2016. Mr Rohr, who is using this match to prepare the team for the forthcoming 2018 World Cup qualifiers, has already several training sessions with the team and appears to be impressed with Mikel’s creativity.
One Nigerian Football Federation official said: “Mikel will play in an attacking position under the new coach, not the holding midfield role he plays for his club. This is a new team and a new direction as we want to make sure we qualify for the World Cup.”
Mr Rohr’s decision may be influenced by the fact that Arsenal playmaker Alex Iwobi is not available for selection due to injury. Iwobi is expected to be out for several weeks and has not featured for his club in the English Premiership die to the injury.