Following revelations that Chelsea midfielder John Mikel Obi would not pick calls from new Super Eagles Coach Sunday Oliseh, he may be missing in action in next month’s 2017 Africa Cup of Nations qualifier in Tanzania.
“I was in England early this month and I put a call through to Mikel. I called him four times, the phone kept ringing. I sent him a text message, I got no response,” Oliseh revealed. “I called his Chelsea team-mate and compatriot [Victor] Moses and we met after the Community Shield.
“I didn’t hear from Mikel to acknowledge my calls or text until I travelled back home [on 6 August]. But after our training [on 19 August] I saw a missed call [from Mikel] on my phone so at the moment I really don’t know what the situation is now.”
But John Shittu, Mikel John Obi’s agent and representative said Obi missed Oliseh’s calls and would never turn his back on Nigeria or show disrespect to any coach. Shittu insisted Obi is willing and ready to play for Nigeria whenever he is called upon to do so.
“Mikel will never turn his back on Nigeria. He loves playing for his country and this is just a miscommunication between coach and player,” Shittu explained. “Mikel sincerely missed the calls and wasn’t sure who called. Once he realised who it was he made efforts to reach Sunday Oliseh but could not speak to him. It’s unfortunate that a miscommunication is being blown out of proportion in the media. Efforts are being made to sort things out amicably because Mikel is dedicated to Nigeria.”
John Mikel Obi is Nigeria’s second most decorated player – Kanu Nwankwo is the first and Obi comes second. Obi won the Africa Cup of Nations, the UEFA Champions League, the UEFA Europa League, two Premier League titles, four English FA Cups, two League Cups, and one Community Shield. He made his debut for Nigeria against Libya in August 2005, and has scored four goals in 64 appearances for Nigeria.
But past Nigerian coaches had always had problems with him and criticized him for lack of respect and indifference to playing for his country when called upon. Berti Vogts, Samson Siasia, and Stephen Keshi all had problems dealing with Mikel Obi.