Here we go again, the blame game; Mikel Obi has blamed the Super Eagles for not doing enough to qualify for the 2015 Africa Cup of Nations which kicked off in Equatorial Guinea on Saturday.
Defending champions Nigeria crashed out on the final day of the qualifying tournament when they struggled to a 2-2 draw against South Africa at home in Uyo, Akwa Ibom State. It was in a match they needed to win and worse for them, their closest rivals Congo won in Sudan to qualify ahead of Nigeria.
Mikel told Africanfootball.com, “We as players know we could have done more, and especially in the match against South Africa which we needed to win at home. But that is history now. We have learnt from it. We hope the authorities will also learn from it and we can get better.
“Of course it is painful. We all wanted to be at the biggest stage in Africa, especially as we are the holders. But we all know many factors contributed to our inability to qualify, and the less said about it the better.”
Nigeria’s huge disappointment has meant that Mikel will now have to concentrate on his English Premier League club Chelsea.
“For now, my focus is back on my team, with an aim to win everything that comes,” he said.
“People are talking about the quadruple just like they put it in our minds that we might be able to go the whole season unbeaten. We didn’t want to be beaten.
“And yes, we are in the hunt for four trophies; and we know it won’t be easy. But we are working hard, and we know we are a successful side, so let’s see what we come up with in May.”
But the challenge is not only the pain of missing EQ 2015 for Mikel as the player’s role in matches has reduced. However, he has said he will not complain about his relegated role at title-chasing Chelsea, insisting he will just get on with the job.
The midfielder has made only four starts in 12 appearances for Chelsea in the EPL this season to spark off speculations about his future at Stamford Bridge. Despite the lowly standing, Mikel has maintained he still has a place at the Stamford Bridge side and will keep working at it in his ninth year at the club.
“We all know Chelsea packs quality and, to even be in the reckoning at all is a big thing. Fellow Africans will agree with me that it is not easy to break into the Premier League, but I have weathered it — this is my ninth year, and I have no regrets at all.
“The key is to keep working hard. That is what I do. I don’t complain, I don’t moan; I work hard and when my chance comes, I take it — and you can see that it is why the boss has faith in me.”