John Obi Mikel might be the man many Nigerians love to hate right now after he bungled the opportunity presented by a penalty – a miss that will later prove costly as the Super Eagles played a draw against Chipolopolo of Zambia yesterday. But head coach, Stephen Keshi, has said that he would not crucify the Chelsea star. Instead, he said he was happy with the result of the match though he had hoped to take all the three points against the champions.
“There’s no specialist when it comes to taking penalties and for Mikel, this is not the first time he is playing a penalty for the Super Eagles,” the coach noted. He recalled that back in the qualifying round, Mikel scored from the penalty spot against Liberia in the 6–1 win of the Super Eagles as well as against Farense FC in the team’s last warm up game in Faro, Portugal.
“No one is blaming Mikel for the penalty miss. All we need to do now is to focus on the next game against Ethiopia because what happened in this game may not happen in that.” While he is not underrating the Ethiopians with an overwhelming support base, Keshi admitted that it would be a tough encounter, but said that the Super Eagles would face the task clearly because the outcome would decide Nigeria’s fate.
“Every game has its own spirit and the way we played (yesterday) would not be the same way we would play against Ethiopia on Tuesday. But I can assure you that we will face them squarely and give our best to ensure that we win,” he said.
We do not hate Mikel. Anybody can miss a penalty and a lot of Nigerians know about football. I have confidence in this team. They have dominated the two teams they have played so far but was unlucky with the refrees who handled the matches.I am disappointed that we dont have people in African football management. A country with 200 million people. Haba.