Super Eagles coach, Gernot Rohr is excited that his captain, John Mikel Obi was at the weekend involved in 75 minutes of action for his new club, Middlesbrough of England.
Rohr is of a view that getting to start for Boro and helping his side get a 3-2 win away to promotion chasing West Bromwich Albion was a good sign that Mikel has stepped up his efforts to prove his fitness, heading into next month’s last Africa Cup of Nations qualifier against Seychelles.
Mikel looked busy in a performance that came less than 24 hours after Rohr stressed that the Eagles’ captain will have to prove his fitness in order to start against Seychelles on March 23.
Nigeria play The Pirates at Stephen Keshi Stadium, Asaba and will battle Egypt in an international friendly at same venue three days later, ahead of which Rohr says Mikel will not get an automatic shirt.
However, in what appeared like the concise reply to Rohr’s comments, Mikel made his full debut in the English Championship with Middlesbrough, and helped his side romp back from a goal down to beat their hosts.
Mikel’s performance for Boro on Saturday evening at The Hawthorns would thrill Rohr and Nigerian football lovers, as he showed immense ball holding abilities, deft touches on the ball, neat passing abilities and matured coverage of space.
Although Mikel eventually made way for Rajiv van La Parra 15 minutes to the final whistle, he appeared to have done enough to convince Rohr that he is good enough for a call-up next month.
It was also an affirmation of the Franco-German gaffer’s verdict that playing in England’s lower division would enhance the twilight days of Mikel, who has also played for Lyn Oslo of Norway and Tianjin Teda of China.
Rohr stated earlier: “I think the Championship has a better level than China, it is good for him to play now.
”He couldn’t come for the last games because he told me he wasn’t fit and ready. We will see now if he is becoming fit, if he is ready we’ll meet him, speak.
”It will be wonderful if he can come back with great fitness because his experience can be very precious for our young team.
”We are even younger than the World Cup, so it’s good to have some experience but he has to be fit at first.”