Mikel Obi Leaves Turkish Club Over Coronavirus Fears

Mikel To Miss Eagles AFCON Qualifier Against South Africa
(File) Nigeria’s midfielder John Obi Mikel attends a press conference in Kaliningrad on June 15, 2018 during the Russia 2018 World Cup football tournament. OZAN KOSE / AFP.

 

Former Nigeria international John Mikel Obi has quit Turkish football club Trabzonspor, the team said, after the former Chelsea midfielder said he did not want to play as the new coronavirus spread worldwide.

“The contract has been ended by mutual agreement with John Obi Mikel,” Trabzonspor said in a statement late Tuesday.

The deal between the player and the team had begun on June 30 last year and was meant to last until May 31, 2021.

He criticised the Turkish Football Federation’s (TFF) move to let Super League matches continue without spectators, unlike in other countries where games have been suspended.

“There is more to life than football. I do not feel comfortable and don’t want to play football in this situation,” Mikel Obi wrote on Instagram on Saturday.

“Everyone should be home with their families and loved ones in this critical time. Season should be cancelled as the world is facing such turbulent times,” he added.

READ ALSO: Burkina Faso Reports First Coronavirus Death In Sub-Saharan Africa 

The 32-year-old played for Chelsea for over 10 years. He retired from international duty after last year’s Africa Cup of Nations after making 89 appearances for Nigeria.

The TFF on Tuesday rejected growing calls for matches to be suspended.

Among those opposed to any delay of Super League matches is Trabzonspor chief Ahmet Agaoglu who said any decision to cancel would lead to a rise in divorces.

Trabzonspor — one of the major non-Istanbul-based clubs — are currently at the top of Turkey’s Super League.

Turkey confirmed its first novel coronavirus-related death on Tuesday as the number of cases in the country rose to 98.

AFP

Nigeria Must Improve Before World Cup, Admits Mikel

Nigeria’s midfielder John Obi Mikel runs with the ball during the International friendly football match between England and Nigeria at Wembley stadium in London on June 2, 2018. Ian KINGTON / AFP

Nigeria captain John Obi Mikel admits his side have to improve quickly if they are to make an impact at the World Cup.

The Super Eagles lost 2-1 to England in a friendly at Wembley on Saturday.

Nigeria were punished for a dismal first-half display as goals from Gary Cahill and Harry Kane put England in control.

Arsenal’s Alex Iwobi pulled one back for the visitors after the interval, but Nigeria couldn’t find an equaliser despite their improved second-half performance.

Mikel knows Nigeria have to sharpen up in Russia if they to get through a tough group featuring Argentina, Iceland and Croatia.

“We are a very young team and we have to learn, it is good for this young team to have a taste of what we are going to face in Russia,” Mikel said.

“We have to learn together as a team, we have to improve and that is why we played this game against such a quality side.

“We can know where we are and now we go back to training and try and improve.”

Coach Gernot Rohr agreed with Mikel’s assessment that Nigeria have much to work on.

But the Nigeria boss blamed their slow start on fatigue caused by a difficult journey to England and rain that stopped them training the day before the match.

“The first lesson is we are not ready yet. We have to work much more in the two weeks before our first game,” the German said.

“We missed totally the first half but the preparation wasn’t good.

“We couldn’t train on Friday because of rain, the pitch wasn’t good. We arrived after a 10-hour flight, with many stops.

“In the first half, our usual formation didn’t work. Some of our players weren’t fit and England put the pressure on us.

“This bad beginning was an opportunity to change and play a bit more like England in the second half. It was much better.

“Also we changed four players. Unfortunately, we can’t change four players if there is a problem in the World Cup.”

Meanwhile, former Chelsea midfielder Mikel saw enough from England to feel he can back Gareth Southgate’s team as potential World Cup winners.

“I think they have a very good chance of going all the way because the youthfulness and energy in this team… you can feel it,” he said.

“I think the pace in the team, you can feel it, and that is why we had some problems in the first half.

“In the second half, we corrected some mistakes and played a lot better. I think the England team have a good chance.”

AFP

Mikel Obi Determined To Stay At Chelsea

Mikel ObiChelsea’s Nigerian midfielder, John Mikel Obi, says he has no intention of leaving the London club.

Signed to the club in 2006 and now second only to Captain John Terry as the longest serving player in the club, Obi says Chelsea has become his home.

There have been rumours linking Mikel with a move away from West London but recent pre-season happenings show that Jose Mourinho might have plans for Mikel in his squad, at least in the 2015/16 season.

The 28-year-old spoke to club website and expressed confident views about his chances in the Chelsea squad.

“I want to stay and the manager wants me to stay,” said Mikel.

“I’ve got two years [on my contract] here and I’m happy.

“I like to be somewhere where I have developed friends and family. It’s like my family here and every day I come to work it is like coming in to see my family.

“I know all the players and all the staff so it’s going to be a hard place to leave when my contract runs out but let’s see what happens. I want to see out my two years.”

Mikel Obi played the first half of Chelsea’s match with New York Red Bulls on Wednesday, leaving the pitch at the break with the Blues 1-0 ahead.

He created an excellent chance for a second with a fine long pass which was latched on to by his compatriot Victor Moses. The winger was unlucky not to score with a dink that hit the post and not the net.

Mikel believes, “Overall it was a pretty good warm-up game but not the result we hoped for.

“We knew we needed to start the game well. I was in the dressing room having a shower at the beginning of the second half so I don’t know how we started but we obviously didn’t end the game well.”

Goals from Loïc Rémy and Eden Hazard could not prevent Chelsea slipping to a 4-2 defeat.

“We are here to work hard, and we are here to train hard leading to the Community Shield and to the league. I think we’re on the right course. That game was just a one-off game and we know we need to go back to training, buckle up and know the season is starting soon”, Mikel Obi said.

Nigerians Hopeful Of Winning Confed Cup

Nigerians have are hopeful that despite initial challenges the Super Eagles can surprise the world by winning the FIFA Confederation Cup.

Three young Nigerians, who discussed the prospect of the Super Eagles in the ongoing Confed Cup Channels Television’s Rubbin’ Mind, said they have confidence that Coach Stephen Keshi would lead his team to victory.

The young sport analysts including Zuby Mgbehoma, Blessing Meteke and Osamudia Idehen recommended the best strategies to adopt in winning the competition and listed some key players that will help Nigeria grab the trophy.

Eagles’ Bonus Row: Maigari Lied, NFF Is Not Broke, Pundits Say

Few months after winning the African Nations Cup, the Nigerian Football governing body has said that it is broke and will need to cut down its spending.

The Confederations Cup-bound Super Eagles had refused to take a $2,500-a-man bonus for Wednesday’s 1-1 draw with Namibia in Windhoek.
The members of the team had insisted on being paid the full win bonus of $5,000 each.

The African champions failed to fly to South Africa from Namibia on Thursday due to a row over win bonus for a World Cup qualifier as they were all held up in their hotel rooms in Namibia an hour to departure to Johannesburg.

The Super Eagles ought to have flown out of Windhoek to Johannesburg on Thursday afternoon, and be on their way to Sao Paulo, Brazil, minutes before 6pm South African time.

And they would have been in Sao Paulo by midnight and connect immediately to Belo Horizonte, venue of their opening match of the FIFA Confederations Cup against Tahiti on Monday.

The Nigeria Football Federation (NFF) president Aminu Maigari met with the team Wednesday night to explain to them that the organisation is broke and so the need to be prudent in their spending.

However, panellists on Channels Sport on Sunday including the Weekend Editor of SportsDay, Desmond Ekwueme, Jimmy Ogunlana and Yemi Bakara disagree with Mr Maigari’s position that the NFF is broke.

Mr Ekwueme described the disagreement between the Super Eagles’ players and the NFF as scandalous insisting that the purpose of winning the nation cup is to make money.

“Football is business. So if you are saying that after winning the nations cup, you don’t know that you have a brand – the trophy is a brand; the players are brand in their rights, even the NFF is a brand – so if you’re saying you don’t know you have a brand, somebody should just leave,” he said.

For Mr Bakare, the NFF is being dishonest.

“You say there’s no money and these boys are seeing you junketing around spending money lavishly,” he said.

Watch the video below for more.

AFCON 2013: Burkina Faso claim late draw against Nigeria

Alain Traore stabbed in with the last kick of the game to give Burkina Faso a 1-1 draw against Nigeria in a Nations Cup clash on Monday night.

The Super Eagles controlled the opening exchanges but did not go on to break the deadlock until the 22nd minute. Brown Ideye managed to flick the ball on for Spartak Moscow striker Emmanuel Emenike, who in turn poked it into the net from close range.

While Nigeria continued to be the dominant force, they failed to add to their tally before the half-time whistle.

Ikechukwu Uche had a good chance to claim a second for the Eagles after the restart, but he shot wide from just two yards out with 65 minutes on the clock.

Then, eight minutes later the Greens found themselves a man light when Celtic’s Efe Ambrose was handed a second yellow card for a challenge on Paul Koulibaly.

Despite the fact that they were at a numerical disadvantage, Nigeria still looked the more likely to score the game’s second goal. However, poor finishing, particularly from John Obi Mikel, meant that they failed to find the net.

Their failure to do so was punished four minutes in stoppage time when Auxerre’s Traore found himself unmarked 10 yards from goal and he responded by rolling the ball into the net.

The result leaves Group C all square, after Zambia and Ethiopia also drew 1-1 earlier on in the day.

Top Eagles Players May Have Chickened Out Of Friendly Against Catalunya

A sport journalist, Nnamdi Obanya on Thursday said some senior Super Eagles’ players may have deliberately absconded from the friendly match against Catalunya for fear of an embarrassing defeat.

Speaking as a guest on Channels Television’s breakfast programme, Sunrise Daily, Mr Obanya said apart from John Obi Mikel and Victor Moses whose English club, Chelsea FC, held back from participating in the match, “top players chickened out.”

The Super Eagles on Wednesday held hosts Catalunya to a 1-1 draw in an international friendly played at the Cornelia El-Prat Stadium in Barcelona.

Mikel signs new 5-year deal with Chelsea

John Obi Mikel has signed a new five-year deal with Chelsea.

Mikel, who joined Chelsea from Norwegian club Lyn Oslo in 2006, says on Wednesday “I have basically won everything with Chelsea and those (six) years have been really special for me.”

The 25-year-old Mikel has won one English Premier League title, four FA Cups, a League Cup as well as the Champions League last season.

He has been a regular in the side since the departure in March of manager Andre Villas-Boas, under whom Mikel lost his regular spot in the first team.

Mikel says “I think I am now hitting my peak but as a player you want to improve every day and there is still room for that.”

Mikel makes list of top 10 footballers in Africa

John Mikel Obi has emerged as the only Nigerian shortlisted for the top ten of the 2012 African Footballer of the Year.

Others shortlisted alongside the Chelsea midfielder are Alexander Song (Cameroon), Andre Ayew (Ghana), Christopher Katongo (Zambia), Demba Ba (Senegal), Didier Drogba (Cote d’Ivoire), Gervais Lombe Yao Kouassi also known as Gervinho (Cote d’Ivoire), Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang (Gabon), Younes Belhanda (Morocco) and Yaya Toure (Cote d’Ivoire).

Mikel’s nomination among the top ten on the continent this year is no doubt influenced by his yeoman role in Chelsea’s win of the UEFA Champions League.

Two other Nigerian players, Victor Moses and John Utaka, who were in the 34-man shortlist failed to reach the last ten.

CAF announced the ten shortlists on its website late Sunday.

The list of ten was decided by CAF’s Technical, Football and Media committees and it “will now be passed on to head coaches and technical directors from CAF member associations whose votes will decide the eventual winners.”

The ten names will be trimmed to the final three shortlists at the end of November before the winner is named at a ceremony on December 20 in Accra, Ghana.

 

Mikel Obi ventures into music

Chelsea and Nigerian midfielder, John Obi Mikel has made foray into music with the setting up of a label named Matured Money Minds.

The label has since kicked off operations with four acts including Jason ‘Kido’ Igho, brother of the winner of the 2011 edition of the reality TV show, Big Brother Africa, Karen Igho.

Karen wrote on Twitter on Thursday, ‘Mikel Obi signed my brother @callme_KIDO to his record label’.

Other acts on the newly formed label are Charass, Edgar and Splash.

With the help of his younger brother Patrick Obi, the 25-year-old football star has set up his Matured Money Minds (MMM) entertainment label.
Mikel who has a relationship with P-Square, is hoping to take music promotions in Nigeria to another level.

“Mikel had always showed his love for music. Setting up a label is just a confirmation of his desire to contribute to the growth of the industry in Nigeria,” said a source.

The artists on the label have reportedly cut their albums and full promotions are in the pipeline to promote and make then rub shoulders with the biggest artistes in the music industry in Nigeria.

Keshi defends Mikel invitation to Eagles squad

Super Eagles coach Stephen Keshi, Tuesday night rebutted insinuations that the restoration of John Mikel to Nigeria’s roster for the Africa Cup of Nations tie against Liberia was because of pressure from high quarters.

Mikel was named among the 38 foreign and home-based players for the crucial engagement billed for Calabar on October 13, marking his return to the national camp since November 2011.

The Chelsea midfielder is yet to figure for the Eagles under the watch of Keshi, after his celebrated refusal to play a friendly match against Botswana last November in Benin City because the game was on an artificial pitch.

The last time he was deployed for Nigeria was in the friendly match against Ghana in London on October 11 2011.

After his meeting with the members of the NFF Technical Committee, Tuesday, Keshi told reporters he offered to include Mikel after the holding midfielder assured him of his availability, when they spoke three days ago.

“I spoke with Mikel three days ago and he convinced me was ready to play for Nigeria and be part of the team that will beat Liberia for the Nations Cup ticket. I don’t have problem with Mikel, he has always figured in my plan.  I know he is in form and he told me that he was ready to play for his country. Nobody forced him on the technical crew,” he defended.

Apart from Mikel, Joel Obi of Inter Milan was also one of the players that staged a return to the Eagles, while Onazi Ogenyi, who plays for Lazio in Italy, was handed his first international call up.

Ogenyi, a forward, was a member of the U-17 team that reached the final of FIFA U-17 World Cup at Nigeria 2009 under the watch of coach, John Sam Obuh.

The full list of foreign-based players are: Goalkeepers Vincent Enyeama (Maccabi Tel Aviv) Austin Ejide(Hapoel Be’er Sheva)

Defenders: Captain Joseph Yobo (Fenerbache) Elderson Echiejile ( Sporting Braga) Efe Ambrose (Celtic)

Midfielders: Nosa Igiebor (Real Betis) Joel Obi (Inter Milan) Nwankwo Obiora( Padova) Ogenyi Onazi ( SS Lazio) John Obi Mikel (Chelsea)

Attackers: Victor Moses (Chelsea) Ahmed Musa (CSKA Moscow), Ikechukwu Uche( Villareal), Emmanuel Emenike (Spartak Moscow) Brown Ideye (Dynamo Kiev)

Meanwhile the duo of Osaze Odemwingie and Taye Taiwo were not included in the team, as Keshi expects them to fight for their place in the Super Eagles squad.

The 23 home based players expected to resume campg at the end of the month are: Chigozie Agbim(Warri Wolves), Daniel Akpeyi (Heartland), Azubike Egwueke (Warri Wolves), Papa Idris (Kano Pillars), Godfrey Obuabuona (Sunshine Stars) Umar Zango (Kano Pillars), Kwambe Solomon (Sunshine Stars), Ezekiel Bassey (Kano Pillars), Kingsley Udoh (Heartland), Ejike Uzoenyi  (Rangers), Sunday Mba(Warri Wolves), Gabriel Reuben(Kano Pillars), Henry Uche(Enyimba), Christian Ofibi (ABS), Solomon Jabason (Akwa United), Sanusi Sani (Gombe), Philiph Asukwo (3SC), Izu Azuka (Sunshine Stars), Anthony Okpotu (Lobi Stars), Brendan Obu (Heartland), Fidelis Saviour (FC Taraba), Ubale Manir (Kano Pillars) and Gomor Ondukwu (Sharks).

 

 

We have ourselves to blame for Juventus draw – Di Matteo

Chelsea Manager Roberto Di Matteo reacted to the poor finish of the Blues at home in Stamford Bridge against Italian club Juventus in their first game of the UEFA Champions League Campaign for the 2012/2013 season.

Di Matteo said Chelsea is blaming itself for blowing a two-goal lead and making the title defence sloppy from the start of the campaign after giving up the lead to settle for a draw against Juventus ending the game 2-2.

From the start, Chelsea proved to be ready for their title defence with debutant Oscar scoring a stunning first-half double, but the Italian champions ruthlessly exposed the holders’ defensive deficiencies to snatch a Group E draw at Stamford Bridge, with Arturo Vidal and Fabio Quagliarella on target.

Chelsea’s defending was bad enough when Juventus pulled a goal back through Vidal before half-time. But just when it looked as if the holders had done enough to hang on, they went missing again, with John Obi Mikel giving the ball away and failing to track back with David Luiz straying away making impossible to stop Quagliarella whose goal drew level for Juventus.

Di Matteo said he thinks Chelsea should have dealt with it a little bit better as there was no pressure on the ball and it was pretty difficult to play offside.

The Chelsea Manager said Chelsea lost possession just beforehand and should have reacted much quicker to losing the ball than his team did even though Chelsea played some good stuff but loose the ball a bit too cheaply.

Oscar was sensational in term so good football in a two-minute spell just past the half-hour mark. Di Matteo raised eyebrows by handing the £25million Brazil star his full debut but it proved an inspired selection.

The 21-year-old’s opening goal owed a lot to the kind of luck Chelsea enjoyed in spades en route to their Champions League triumph but his second was the kind of spectacular strike that would have had billionaire Roman Abramovich drooling.

Di Matteo said it was a great debut for Oscar and he thought it was the right game to start him and he did a perfect job tactically because he proved that by scoring two goals and the second one was a wonderful goal. He is a big talent and he has got a bit of everything.