Football

Mikel: Why I’m hanging my boots after AFCON 2019

Super Eagles captain John Mikel Obi has confirmed that Africa Cup of Nations going on Egypt will be his last tournament for Nigeria as he wants to give the young ones a chance.

Mikel who made his debut in 2006 confirmed this ahead of Nigeria’s quarterfinal game against South Africa in Cairo international stadium.

The former Chelsea star told BBC he will be retiring from international football after the tournament and hopes to go out on a victorious note. “It’s been an amazing ride for me in the national team,” Mikel told BBC Sport.

“Thirteen years I think is enough. I’ve won trophies, I’ve had a lot of amazing time. I think it’s time for these young guys to carry on.

“I’m mostly here in Egypt to support the young guys and make sure they’re on the right track. “I think my presence is always important for them, hopefully, I can finish with the trophy.”

The 32-year-old midfielder has 89 caps to his name and has won the Nations Cup already in 2013. He has appeared in two world cups for Nigeria (2014 and 2018).

Nevertheless, he will love to retire with a second AFCON title. The Super Eagles are still on course to win their fourth AFCON title and they will continue that quest when they take on South Africa in Wednesday’s quarterfinal.

Mikel who missed the round of 16 victory over Cameroon due to injury hopes to play a part in the game against the Bafana Bafana.

“If I’m fit, I’d love to play in the quarterfinal, but no need to rush,” he added. “Hopefully if we can make it to the semi-finals I’ll probably be ready then and help the team if I’m needed.

He also added that winning the AFCON title in South Africa was the highest point of his career and will love to help the current generation achieve their dreams by winning it once again.

“Obviously winning the Nations Cup in South Africa was the high point, that’s why I want to help this young team to hopefully achieve their dreams,” he said.

“If we are able to win it here, I’ll be proud and they’ll be proud, then they can carry on from here.”

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