According to reports, Mikel Obi would have staged a return to the team for the African Cup of Nations qualifier against Seychelles slated for March 22 and friendly game with Egypt four days later but for the choice of the Stephen Keshi Stadium as the venue for the two games.
The Super Eagles captain has not played for the team since the 2018 FIFA World Cup in June but following his remarkable run with his new side Middlesbrough many Nigerians had expected to see the skipper back in the squad for the March matches.
Although Eagles’ Manager Gernot Rohr had said the former Chelsea midfielder was not ready to return to the side hence his decision to leave him out of the two tie, New Telegraph correspondent reliably learnt that the midfielder decided to prolong his stay away from the team because of the venue of the two matches.
Sources said the player himself got information about the condition of the surface of the main pitch of the Stephen Keshi Stadium and he didn’t want to risk sustaining injury due to a substandard pitch.
“It is true that Mikel would have returned to the team for these two matches,” a source told our correspondent. “He was willing to make it but the information he got about the Asaba pitch stopped him from coming this time.
“The truth is that he had already spoken to the coach about his willingness to come but Rohr also reasoned with him that it was risky to play him on that pitch knowing full well that he is just returning to full fitness after an injury that stopped him from featuring for his former Chinese side Tianjin Teda in their last few matches to the end of last season.
“Mikel is so committed to the national team and if he stays fit he shall definitely lead the side to the 2019 AFCON.”