The England-based duo of John Mikel Obi and Kelechi Iheanacho, who are both facing diverse fortunes in the top two divisions respectively will not be in action for the Super Eagles when the Nigerian team face Seychelles and Egypt later this month in Asaba.
Although Mikel has been in tremendous form since signing in January as a free agent for English Championship side, Middlesbrough, the Eagles captain has been left of the latest list of invitees, while Leicester City’s Iheanacho pays the price for poor form.
Only this past weekend, Iheanacho was again out of The Foxes’ first 11, as the UAE 2013 FIFA U-17 World Cup gold medalist and most valuable player continues toiling for form, such that his absence from the Eagles’ squad to battle Seychelles on March 22 and Egypt four days later, bith at Stephen Keshi Stadium, Asaba, appears long overdue.
The 22-year-old former Manchester City striker is not in the squad for the first time under Gernot Rohr, as he continues to struggle for form with club and country, so his place has been taken by FC Midtjyland of Denmark sensation, Paul Onuachu, who is currently Nigeria’s top scorer in Europe this season with 17 goals in 28 games.
However, while Iheanacho’s absence from the Eagles’ list of 23 players rolled out Monday by Rohr appears understandable, same cannot be said about Mikel, who has not played for Nigeria since starring at the 2018 World Cup in Russia.
The former Lyn Oslo of Norway and Chelsea of England star had been highlighted for his first Nigeria match since June 2018, following his decision to terminate his contract at Tianjin Teda of China and return to England, but his return to captain the Eagles will take a longer time.
This has raised further speculation that Mikel might have stylishly opted to retire from the Eagles, and many fear he could have played his last match for the nation, considering several promises and rebuttals given by Rohr over his captain’s status in the team since June 2018.
ROHR’S FULL LIST: Goalkeepers: Francis Uzoho (Anorthosis Famagusta, Cyprus); Ikechukwu Ezenwa (Katsina United); and Daniel Akpeyi (Kaizer Chiefs, South Africa).
Defenders: Olaoluwa Aina (Torino, Italy); Abdullahi Shehu (Bursaspor, Turkey); Valentine Ozornwafor (Enyimba); Chidozie Awaziem (Caykur Rizespor, Turkey); William Troost-Ekong (Udinese, Italy); Leon Balogun (Brighton & Hove Albion, England); Kenneth Omeruo ( Leganes, Spain); Jamilu Collins (SC Padeborn, Germany).
Midfielders: Semi Ajayi (Rotherham United, England); Wilfred Ndidi (Leicester City, England); Oghenekaro Etebo (Stoke City, England); John Ogu (Hapoel Be’er Sheva, Israel).
Forwards: Ahmed Musa (Al Nassr, Saudi Arabia); Victor Osimhen (Charleroi, Belgium); Moses Simon (Levante, Spain); Henry Onyekuru (Galatasaray, Turkey); Odion Ighalo (Shanghai Shenhua, China); Alex Iwobi (Arsenal, England); Samuel Kalu (Girondins Bordeaux, France); and Paul Onuachu (FC Midtjyland, Denmark).