Midfielder John Mikel Obi was pronounced the new Super Eagles’ captain at a press conference on Thursday in Kaduna ahead of the 2017 Africa Cup of Nations qualifier against the Pharaohs of Egypt.
The Nigeria team had arrived for the pre –match press conference with Coach Samson Siasia and Captain Ahmed Musa, with Mikel Obi in tow. But Musa surprised the waiting throng of media representatives when he announced that Obi was now the captain.
“John Mikel Obi is our new Captain,” he announced to a stunned auditorium. There have been loud praises for the elegant forward Musa for his humility, and words of congratulations for midfield enforcer Obi, who both represented Nigeria at junior level.
The honour was certainly well –deserved, as Obi remains the longest –serving player in the team, following the retirement of goalkeeper Vincent Enyeama. Obi played his first match for the senior team in 2005, and made his competitive debut at the 2006 Africa Cup of Nations finals in Egypt, where Nigeria won bronze.
Obi also played at the 2008 and 2010 Africa Cup of Nations, but missed the 2010 FIFA World Cup as a result of injury. He was the stand –out player as Nigeria won the 2013 Africa Cup of Nations in South Africa, and starred at the 2013 FIFA Confederations Cup and the 2014 FIFA World Cup finals, both held in Brazil.
“The Super Eagles will now play with a new approach,” Obi, who won gold at the 2005 African Youth Championship and silver at the FIFA U-20 World Cup the same year, pledged as he joyfully received the captain’s band.
Nigeria take on Egypt at the Ahmadu Bello Stadium, Kaduna starting from 5pm on Friday, in one of the Day 3 matches of the 2017 Africa Cup of Nations qualification series, before both teams again clash four days later in Alexandria.