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PostPosted: Thu May 31, 2018 1:06 pm 
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https://www.theguardian.com/football/20 ... x-ferguson

Mikel John Obi: ‘If Nigeria were organised we’d have won the World Cup’
By David Hytner

Nigeria’s captain opens up on the ‘massive problems’ that derailed the team in 2014, life in China and the day he feared Sir Alex Ferguson would punch him

For Mikel John Obi, it was the boyhood dream that soured. “It was a disaster,” the Nigeria midfielder says of the 2014 World Cup in Brazil – his first involvement at a finals.

From the outside looking in, there was a depressingly familiar undercurrent in the form of a pay dispute between the Nigeria Football Federation and the players. It led to a boycott of training from the latter days before the last-16 tie against France, which they lost 2-0. From the inside looking out, it was simply toxic.

“There were a lot of problems in the camp which a lot of people didn’t see, the media didn’t see – we kind of hid it under the table,” Mikel says. “The relationships between the players were not good and there was no discipline. There was no good feeling, no good vibe.

“It almost got to people being pinned up against dressing-room walls, although not quite. It was confrontation and arguments. Players wanted to do their own thing and they didn’t think about the team.”

Mikel is looking ahead to captaining Nigeria at the Russia World Cup and the preparations will ramp up on Saturday with the friendly against England at Wembley – the scene of some of Mikel’s most memorable triumphs from his 10 and a half seasons at Chelsea. The 31-year-old is now at Tianjin Teda in the Chinese Super League.

But the past is unavoidable for Nigeria and it has shaped what is a new era for them under the manager, Gernot Rohr – a disciplinarian German – and Mikel, whose status within the setup goes way beyond wearing the armband on match days.

The turmoil in Brazil had followed similar internal conflict at the 2010 World Cup in South Africa, when Nigeria departed at the group phase. Mikel missed the tournament through injury but he heard the stories and, afterwards, the then Nigeria president, Goodluck Jonathan, ruled that the national team should be suspended from competition for two years. The measure would be rescinded but it illustrated the depths of the despair; the sense that the squad had become ungovernable.

“There were massive problems in the camp and that’s why the president got upset,” Mikel says. “He said: ‘Until you guys fix yourselves up, that’s it. No more.’ The public were upset but they were in support of it because they also wanted whatever was going on to stop. We couldn’t keep going to tournaments and making a mockery of ourselves.”

It was tempting to conclude that the shock therapy failed but, after Brazil, there remained the appetite for what Mikel describes as “radical change”. The squad has been purged and it says everything that Rohr will take only five survivors from the previous finals to Russia – Mikel, Victor Moses, Ahmed Musa, Ogenyi Onazi and Kenneth Omeruo.

The transition has been painful. Nigeria failed to qualify for the Africa Cup of Nations in 2015 and 2017 – a sentence that ought to finish with an exclamation mark. This is Nigeria – estimated population: 195 million; the largest African country, by far. They had won the 2013 Cup of Nations, in which Mikel was outstanding.

There had been trepidation when Rohr was appointed in August 2016 and Nigeria addressed a difficult World Cup qualifying group with Cameroon, Algeria and Zambia. Yet they would finish on top of it with a game to spare.

Mikel says that Rohr has driven the upturn through his attention to detail and his insistence upon certain standards, all of which come under the umbrella of putting the team first. He is forensic in his video-analysis sessions, his meetings, his work on set pieces, and that has added up to a change in the collective mentality.

Rohr’s squad is young and their inexperience is a worry. He has a group of 25 for the fixture against England; 14 of them are aged 25 or under. The young guns include Wilfred Ndidi, Alex Iwobi and Kelechi Iheanacho. But, crucially, Mikel says they are together; ready to fight for each other.

“The coach and myself, as captain, have tried to make these young players realise that we are a team, not individuals,” Mikel says. “If you don’t want to play together, you are welcome to leave. It’s amazing now to go to camp. You can feel the good feelings.

“I have been in the national team since 2005 and I haven’t seen this discipline before. It is meetings, being on time, the training. Sometimes a player has the hump because he knows he is not going to make the team and, before in the national team, he just strolls around. Now, you have to train properly. If you don’t, you are leaving the camp. The coach has changed the whole mentality.”

The warm-up game with England will stir the nostalgia in Mikel. He started in three FA Cup finals for Chelsea at Wembley and won them all, with the first – against Manchester United in 2007, at the end of his debut season – the most special. Mikel had chosen Chelsea over United when he moved from the Norwegian club Lyn Oslo in well-documented and acrimonious fashion.

“I thought I was going to get a punch from Sir Alex [Ferguson] in the tunnel,” Mikel says, with a laugh. “But that was a great game for me. Wembley is a very good ground for me.”

Mikel makes the reasonable point that he has nothing to prove to supporters in England, having won the lot at Chelsea – two Premier Leagues, four FA Cups (he got a medal in 2010, although he missed the final against Portsmouth because of injury), two League Cups, one Europa League and, most famously, one Champions League. Ever the big-game player, he starred in the final against Bayern Munich.

He is aware of the perception about top players who move to China – they are going there to retire; there is no way back into the leading European leagues. It needles him and it will give him extra edge against England.

“Look at Paulinho,” Mikel says, of the Brazil midfielder. “He went to Guangzhou Evergrande from Tottenham and then he got a move to Barcelona. You can still go back. It depends on how well you look after yourself. The players in China like Oscar, Ramires – we have offers, day in, day out, to come back to Europe.

“But if you make a decision, you need to stick by it. I have a contract [until next year] and I have to respect it. I like where I play. The culture is totally different and it’s something that I wanted to experience – and for my two little girls, as well.”

Mikel’s home remains in London. He lives in a fabulous Holland Park plot with his girlfriend, Olga Diyachenko, and their two-year-old twin daughters, Mia and Ava, although happily for him they are able to visit him in China for two- and three-month periods. The Premier League retains a pull for romantic and practical reasons. “Who knows where I am going to retire,” Mikel says. “Maybe I might come back here and retire.”

Mikel carries a lot of responsibility, not least in relation to his charity – the Mikel Obi Africa Children’s Sport Foundation. Mikel wants to set up sports academies across Africa with the goal of helping to alleviate poverty in the next generation of African children through sport.

It is the World Cup that preoccupies him and the question of how Nigeria will emerge from a group which contains Argentina, Croatia and Iceland. Mikel made his name as a holding midfielder at Chelsea but he plays as the No 10 for Nigeria, normally behind Odion Ighalo. The creative burden rests with him.

Above all Mikel – who was named as the captain by Rohr’s predecessor, Samson Siasia, in February 2016 – must embrace the role of senior statesman, diplomat and, essentially, the face of this Nigeria project. “African teams always tend to have problems inside the team,” Mikel says. “It might be bonuses, friendships, organisation. If the Nigerian teams were as well organised as the Europeans, we would have won the World Cup by now. In Brazil, the financial aspect was a massive problem. Players didn’t want to train, they wanted to go on strike because they hadn’t received the bonus. This has to stop. We’ve stressed that it has to be sorted out this time.”

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PostPosted: Thu May 31, 2018 1:22 pm 
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Wow! So the 2014 team was in disarray too! :shock:

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PostPosted: Thu May 31, 2018 1:27 pm 
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EMIR KONGI JAFFI JOFFA wrote:
Wow! So the 2014 team was in disarray too! :shock:


News to me as well. Like the man said, they hid it very well.

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PostPosted: Thu May 31, 2018 1:29 pm 
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Scipio Africanus wrote:
EMIR KONGI JAFFI JOFFA wrote:
Wow! So the 2014 team was in disarray too! :shock:


News to me as well. Like the man said, they hid it very well.


Osaze? :D

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PostPosted: Thu May 31, 2018 1:34 pm 
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EMIR KONGI JAFFI JOFFA wrote:
Wow! So the 2014 team was in disarray too! :shock:


You forgotten all the quarreling, Gucci slipper-slaps, and money related boycotting before the France game?

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PostPosted: Thu May 31, 2018 1:42 pm 
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zee wrote:
Scipio Africanus wrote:
EMIR KONGI JAFFI JOFFA wrote:
Wow! So the 2014 team was in disarray too! :shock:


News to me as well. Like the man said, they hid it very well.


Osaze? :D


:rotf: Yeah, but I thought that was a one-off.

On Edit: Now that I think about it, something was off about the team spirit in the game against France.

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Last edited by Scipio Africanus on Thu May 31, 2018 1:44 pm, edited 1 time in total.

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PostPosted: Thu May 31, 2018 1:42 pm 
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Scipio Africanus wrote:
EMIR KONGI JAFFI JOFFA wrote:
Wow! So the 2014 team was in disarray too! :shock:


News to me as well. Like the man said, they hid it very well.


No news to me. If I had made mention of the things that happened in 2014 camp, some guys would've asked for evidence. One of the infighting on Eagles camp is always between the players who deserve to be in the squad and those that came in through the back door.

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PostPosted: Thu May 31, 2018 1:48 pm 
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Sir V wrote:
camp, some guys would've asked for evidence. One of the infighting on Eagles camp is always between the players who deserve to be in the squad and those that came in through the back door.

Nak us story....

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PostPosted: Thu May 31, 2018 1:50 pm 
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Sir V wrote:
Scipio Africanus wrote:
EMIR KONGI JAFFI JOFFA wrote:
Wow! So the 2014 team was in disarray too! :shock:


News to me as well. Like the man said, they hid it very well.


No news to me. If I had made mention of the things that happened in 2014 camp, some guys would've asked for evidence. One of the infighting on Eagles camp is always between the players who deserve to be in the squad and those that came in through the back door.

............and you were one of the LOUDEST mouths on CE that got Osaze in 'through the back door'!!
So you have every reason to hold your peace then....................'cos you were part of the problem.

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PostPosted: Thu May 31, 2018 1:50 pm 
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2014 was a disaster. We could have achieved much more.
I remember Keshi (RIP) saying that he hasn’t watched tape of the teams in our group because you don’t need that to play football. This was days prior to our first match vs Iran.

Hate all you want but Pinnic and Rohr have done a good job with the team. This is the most organized we’ve ever been. I understand why Rohr is hesitant to bring in new players.


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PostPosted: Thu May 31, 2018 1:54 pm 
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Synopsis wrote:
2014 was a disaster. We could have achieved much more.
I remember Keshi (RIP) saying that he hasn’t watched tape on the teams in our group because you don’t need that to play football. This was days prior to our first match vs Iran.

Hate all you want but Pinnic has done a good job with the team. This is the most organized we’ve ever been.


Assuming that the GREAT MIC :thumbs: :thumbs: said that............so what!!!!!!!
Your 2010 wowo-coach, watched the tapes of all the teams in our group and we still..........CRASHED OUT.

You 'football-know-nothings' :curse: :curse: truly have a freaking idiotic nerve. :curse: :curse: :curse: :curse:

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PostPosted: Thu May 31, 2018 1:56 pm 
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Apologies to BigPokey, but this dude always speaks 'sense' in his interviews...

Rarely spouts those familiar cliches we hear from African players, even in the face of overwhelming odds:
'...its 11 v 11 on the pitch..'
'...with God all things are possible...'

Mikel always tells it as it is...

Brilliant. :thumbs: :thumbs:

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PostPosted: Thu May 31, 2018 2:00 pm 
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I do not know that winning the World Cup would have been assured by better organization. However, Mikel's views are remarkably similar to the views that the Italian journalist, Filippo Ricci, shared with me in a discussion before the 1998 World Cup. At the time, he believed Nigeria needed someone like Giovanni Trappatoni to win the World Cup. This was his belief. My take is that while organization surely can help us, it cannot guarantee anything.

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PostPosted: Thu May 31, 2018 2:00 pm 
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zee wrote:
Synopsis wrote:
2014 was a disaster. We could have achieved much more.
I remember Keshi (RIP) saying that he hasn’t watched tape on the teams in our group because you don’t need that to play football. This was days prior to our first match vs Iran.

Hate all you want but Pinnic has done a good job with the team. This is the most organized we’ve ever been.


Assuming that the GREAT MIC :thumbs: :thumbs: said that............so what!!!!!!!
Your 2010 wowo-coach, watched the tapes of all the teams in our group and we still..........CRASHED OUT.

You 'football-know-nothings' :curse: :curse: truly have a freaking idiotic nerve. :curse: :curse: :curse: :curse:

Lagerback was a $#% mercenary. I wanted Amodu to continue.


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PostPosted: Thu May 31, 2018 2:02 pm 
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zee wrote:
Sir V wrote:
Scipio Africanus wrote:
EMIR KONGI JAFFI JOFFA wrote:
Wow! So the 2014 team was in disarray too! :shock:


News to me as well. Like the man said, they hid it very well.


No news to me. If I had made mention of the things that happened in 2014 camp, some guys would've asked for evidence. One of the infighting on Eagles camp is always between the players who deserve to be in the squad and those that came in through the back door.

............and you were one of the LOUDEST mouths on CE that got Osaze in 'through the back door'!!
So you have every reason to hold your peace then....................'cos you were part of the problem.


Haba my broad, nor put me for bottom load o. I don't have the power or connection to put any player in the eagles squad through back door.

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PostPosted: Thu May 31, 2018 2:13 pm 
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Enugu II wrote:
I do not know that winning the World Cup would have been assured by better organization. However, Mikel's views are remarkably similar to the views that the Italian journalist, Filippo Ricci, shared with me in a discussion before the 1998 World Cup. At the time, he believed Nigeria needed someone like Giovanni Trappatoni to win the World Cup. This was his belief. My take is that while organization surely can help us, it cannot guarantee anything.


I think it would have been assured if we expand better organization to how we handle sports in general. I.e. everything from nutrition, livelihood, academies, the NPFL, the local infrastructure etc.

The statistics show that Nigeria is to be the hot-spot of football interest in the entire world!

Ahead of Brazil ahead of India, China etc.

And unlike India, China and the USA, this is our national sport. So when you put 2 and 2 together, if you deduce that Nigeria will have the largest football pool in the world (which we will) then what else has been missing? Surely we have been doing Sports the wrong way! Do you honestly think that our performance in Boxing, in the Olympics, in the Commonwealth games, in Table Tennis etc. is natural?

I cannot claim to know the future or how the past could have been reshaped, BUT if Nigeria had been a serious nation, I would put $5000 in a retrospective bet to say that we would have won the World Cup by now! The fact that we haven't is a direct indictment of how bad we have been as a nation.

You cannot tell me otherwise! We are the most underachieving footballing nation!

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But, paired with Bulgaria, Argentina and Greece, pundits predicted an early exit for the debutants.

"We went into the tournament unrated and as underdogs. Before Bulgaria recovered, we'd gone ahead and tore them apart," recalled defender Austin Eguavoen.

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PostPosted: Thu May 31, 2018 2:20 pm 
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Tbite wrote:
Enugu II wrote:
I do not know that winning the World Cup would have been assured by better organization. However, Mikel's views are remarkably similar to the views that the Italian journalist, Filippo Ricci, shared with me in a discussion before the 1998 World Cup. At the time, he believed Nigeria needed someone like Giovanni Trappatoni to win the World Cup. This was his belief. My take is that while organization surely can help us, it cannot guarantee anything.


I think it would have been assured if we expand better organization to how we handle sports in general. I.e. everything from nutrition, livelihood, academies, the NPFL, the local infrastructure etc.

The statistics show that Nigeria is to be the hot-spot of football interest in the entire world!

Ahead of Brazil ahead of India, China etc.

And unlike India, China and the USA, this is our national sport. So when you put 2 and 2 together, if you deduce that Nigeria will have the largest football pool in the world (which we will) then what else has been missing? Surely we have been doing Sports the wrong way! Do you honestly think that our performance in Boxing, in the Olympics, in the Commonwealth games, in Table Tennis etc. is natural?

I cannot claim to know the future or how the past could have been reshaped, BUT if Nigeria had been a serious nation, I would put $5000 in a retrospective bet to say that we would have won the World Cup by now! The fact that we haven't is a direct indictment of how bad we have been as a nation.

You cannot tell me otherwise! We are the most underachieving footballing nation!



Nigeria should have the ability to field 5 different teams if they wanted to, so much talent in the country, there are thousands of okocha and kanu playing in barefoot!

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PostPosted: Thu May 31, 2018 2:23 pm 
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Tbite,

I wish you, Mikel, and Filippo are correct on this. However, while I believe results could have improved for Nigeria, I am not so sure about winning because there are others that are also full of talents and will also be organized.

Tbite wrote:
Enugu II wrote:
I do not know that winning the World Cup would have been assured by better organization. However, Mikel's views are remarkably similar to the views that the Italian journalist, Filippo Ricci, shared with me in a discussion before the 1998 World Cup. At the time, he believed Nigeria needed someone like Giovanni Trappatoni to win the World Cup. This was his belief. My take is that while organization surely can help us, it cannot guarantee anything.


I think it would have been assured if we expand better organization to how we handle sports in general. I.e. everything from nutrition, livelihood, academies, the NPFL, the local infrastructure etc.

The statistics show that Nigeria is to be the hot-spot of football interest in the entire world!

Ahead of Brazil ahead of India, China etc.

And unlike India, China and the USA, this is our national sport. So when you put 2 and 2 together, if you deduce that Nigeria will have the largest football pool in the world (which we will) then what else has been missing? Surely we have been doing Sports the wrong way! Do you honestly think that our performance in Boxing, in the Olympics, in the Commonwealth games, in Table Tennis etc. is natural?

I cannot claim to know the future or how the past could have been reshaped, BUT if Nigeria had been a serious nation, I would put $5000 in a retrospective bet to say that we would have won the World Cup by now! The fact that we haven't is a direct indictment of how bad we have been as a nation.

You cannot tell me otherwise! We are the most underachieving footballing nation!

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The difficulties of statistical thinking describes a puzzling limitation of our mind: our excessive confidence in what we believe we know, and our apparent inability to acknowledge the full extent of our ignorance and the uncertainty of the world we live in. We are prone to overestimate how much we understand about the world and to underestimate the role of chance in events -- Daniel Kahneman (2011), Winner of the Nobel Prize in Economics
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PostPosted: Thu May 31, 2018 2:24 pm 
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By 2050, in Nigeria there will be more people playing football than in any other place on the planet.

Yet we say that this is our national sport, with a straight face....having achieved relatively little on the global stage.

That is also to say that by 2050, more football will be played in Nigeria than anywhere else on the planet, yet somehow we shouldn't be a dominant force in the sport? By what logic?

It is one of our biggest failures as a nation!

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But, paired with Bulgaria, Argentina and Greece, pundits predicted an early exit for the debutants.

"We went into the tournament unrated and as underdogs. Before Bulgaria recovered, we'd gone ahead and tore them apart," recalled defender Austin Eguavoen.

Oluwashina Okeleji


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PostPosted: Thu May 31, 2018 2:31 pm 
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Scipio Africanus wrote:
https://www.theguardian.com/football/2018/may/31/mikel-john-obi-nigeria-world-cup-russia-china-sir-alex-ferguson

Mikel John Obi: ‘If Nigeria were organised we’d have won the World Cup’
By David Hytner

Nigeria’s captain opens up on the ‘massive problems’ that derailed the team in 2014, life in China and the day he feared Sir Alex Ferguson would punch him

For Mikel John Obi, it was the boyhood dream that soured. “It was a disaster,” the Nigeria midfielder says of the 2014 World Cup in Brazil – his first involvement at a finals.

From the outside looking in, there was a depressingly familiar undercurrent in the form of a pay dispute between the Nigeria Football Federation and the players. It led to a boycott of training from the latter days before the last-16 tie against France, which they lost 2-0. From the inside looking out, it was simply toxic.

“There were a lot of problems in the camp which a lot of people didn’t see, the media didn’t see – we kind of hid it under the table,” Mikel says. “The relationships between the players were not good and there was no discipline. There was no good feeling, no good vibe.

It almost got to people being pinned up against dressing-room walls, although not quite. It was confrontation and arguments. Players wanted to do their own thing and they didn’t think about the team.”

Mikel is looking ahead to captaining Nigeria at the Russia World Cup and the preparations will ramp up on Saturday with the friendly against England at Wembley – the scene of some of Mikel’s most memorable triumphs from his 10 and a half seasons at Chelsea. The 31-year-old is now at Tianjin Teda in the Chinese Super League.

But the past is unavoidable for Nigeria and it has shaped what is a new era for them under the manager, Gernot Rohr – a disciplinarian German – and Mikel, whose status within the setup goes way beyond wearing the armband on match days.

The turmoil in Brazil had followed similar internal conflict at the 2010 World Cup in South Africa, when Nigeria departed at the group phase. Mikel missed the tournament through injury but he heard the stories and, afterwards, the then Nigeria president, Goodluck Jonathan, ruled that the national team should be suspended from competition for two years. The measure would be rescinded but it illustrated the depths of the despair; the sense that the squad had become ungovernable.

“There were massive problems in the camp and that’s why the president got upset,” Mikel says. “He said: ‘Until you guys fix yourselves up, that’s it. No more.’ The public were upset but they were in support of it because they also wanted whatever was going on to stop. We couldn’t keep going to tournaments and making a mockery of ourselves.”

It was tempting to conclude that the shock therapy failed but, after Brazil, there remained the appetite for what Mikel describes as “radical change”. The squad has been purged and it says everything that Rohr will take only five survivors from the previous finals to Russia – Mikel, Victor Moses, Ahmed Musa, Ogenyi Onazi and Kenneth Omeruo.

The transition has been painful. Nigeria failed to qualify for the Africa Cup of Nations in 2015 and 2017 – a sentence that ought to finish with an exclamation mark. This is Nigeria – estimated population: 195 million; the largest African country, by far. They had won the 2013 Cup of Nations, in which Mikel was outstanding.

There had been trepidation when Rohr was appointed in August 2016 and Nigeria addressed a difficult World Cup qualifying group with Cameroon, Algeria and Zambia. Yet they would finish on top of it with a game to spare.

Mikel says that Rohr has driven the upturn through his attention to detail and his insistence upon certain standards, all of which come under the umbrella of putting the team first. He is forensic in his video-analysis sessions, his meetings, his work on set pieces, and that has added up to a change in the collective mentality.

Rohr’s squad is young and their inexperience is a worry. He has a group of 25 for the fixture against England; 14 of them are aged 25 or under. The young guns include Wilfred Ndidi, Alex Iwobi and Kelechi Iheanacho. But, crucially, Mikel says they are together; ready to fight for each other.

“The coach and myself, as captain, have tried to make these young players realise that we are a team, not individuals,” Mikel says. “If you don’t want to play together, you are welcome to leave. It’s amazing now to go to camp. You can feel the good feelings.

“I have been in the national team since 2005 and I haven’t seen this discipline before. It is meetings, being on time, the training. Sometimes a player has the hump because he knows he is not going to make the team and, before in the national team, he just strolls around. Now, you have to train properly. If you don’t, you are leaving the camp. The coach has changed the whole mentality.”




And some people wanted Enyeama to come into the teaam.


When I spoke about "peace corps team,' Pa Jeun Ko Ku almost committed suicide! He wanted wickedness and demons to return back to the National team and detroy what we suffered to build! Enemies of progress! Thank God for Rohr and Mikel :clap: :clap:

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metalalloy wrote:
Does the SE have Gray, Mahrez or Albrighton on our team or players of their caliber?


:lol: :lol: :lol: :lol:


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PostPosted: Thu May 31, 2018 2:33 pm 
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Sir V wrote:
Scipio Africanus wrote:
EMIR KONGI JAFFI JOFFA wrote:
Wow! So the 2014 team was in disarray too! :shock:


News to me as well. Like the man said, they hid it very well.


No news to me. If I had made mention of the things that happened in 2014 camp, some guys would've asked for evidence. One of the infighting on Eagles camp is always between the players who deserve to be in the squad and those that came in through the back door.


And some people thought we were stupid when we fought against this kind of backyard movement, including the cabal that wanted Enyeama. Thats how they would have ruined another world cup.

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metalalloy wrote:
Does the SE have Gray, Mahrez or Albrighton on our team or players of their caliber?


:lol: :lol: :lol: :lol:


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PostPosted: Thu May 31, 2018 2:33 pm 
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Synopsis wrote:
2014 was a disaster. We could have achieved much more.
I remember Keshi (RIP) saying that he hasn’t watched tape of the teams in our group because you don’t need that to play football. This was days prior to our first match vs Iran.

Hate all you want but Pinnic and Rohr have done a good job with the team. This is the most organized we’ve ever been. I understand why Rohr is hesitant to bring in new players.


:clap: :clap: :clap: :clap: :clap:

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metalalloy wrote:
Does the SE have Gray, Mahrez or Albrighton on our team or players of their caliber?


:lol: :lol: :lol: :lol:


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PostPosted: Thu May 31, 2018 2:39 pm 
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Scipio Africanus wrote:
EMIR KONGI JAFFI JOFFA wrote:
Wow! So the 2014 team was in disarray too! :shock:


News to me as well. Like the man said, they hid it very well.

The only thing that was well hidden was the Gucci Slippers before it left some Gucci prints on Mikel's face :tic:

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