June 17, 2009

Mikel fights for first team shirt

By Onochie Anibeze
Mikel Obi may start in  Nigeria’s World Cup qualifier against Tunisia on Saturday.The Chelsea midfielder was one of the key players coach Amodu Shuaibu left out from the tie against Kenya that they eventually won 3-0.



Joseph Yobo, Taiye Taiwo, and Chidi Odia were also dropped from the team for not showing commitment during the preparation for the Abuja match. For flimsy excuses, they failed to show up for the two friendly matches Nigeria played in Europe before the Abuja match.

The action by Amodu appears to have changed the players, at least, for now. Mikel, always nonchalant about national team calls, was the first to report to camp in Lagos before the team travelled to Malta where they have been training for Saturday’s crucial match that may determine who, between Nigeria and Tunisia, qualifies for the World Cup finals.
It did not end there. Mikel showed hunger in their two training sessions in Lagos before they left.

“Mikel was unbelievable in training in Lagos,” team’s spokesman Idah Peterside said.“We did only fitness training and he was on his toes, even going the extra mile. He said he was ready to run from Lagos to Oturukpo (a town in Benue State) and it speaks volumes of the hunger in him.”

Reports from Malta say Obi has maintained the trend. Taiwo and Odia have also been displaying great strides in training. Yobo has, however, faced the misfortune of not training with the team in Malta due to visa problems. But he was also training in Lagos. Himself, assistant coach Daniel Amokachi, Dele Ayenugba  and  John  Utaka missed the training camp in Malta but left for Tunisia last night. They were expected to arrive the North African country today, about the same time