While many are still wondering why first time Olympian John Mikel Obi was named the captain of Team Nigeria for the Rio 2016 Olympics, a statement by the Media Assistant to the Minister of Sports has revealed why the Chelsea star was chosen ahead of other experienced stars.
Recall the Chelsea midfielder was named the captain of Team Nigeria to the Rio 2016 Olympic Games, which begins on August 5 by the Minister of Youth and Sports, Solomon Dalung on Tuesday.
it would also be recalled that 40-year-old table tennis star Funke Oshonaike, who will be making her sixth appearance at the games after her debut appearance at Atlanta ’96, was named the assistant team captain.
Giving reason for the appointment, the Media Assistant to the Minister of Sports, Nneka Anibeze said, “Mikel and Oshonaike were chosen because of their consistency, patriotism and dedication to national assignments.”
Also reacting to the appointment, Nigeria’s Chef- de- Mission at the games, Christian Ohaa, said,
“Mikel is a young, patriotic footballer of international status and we believe he will be a role model to the up-and-coming athletes while Oshonaike is experienced and is one of the oldest athletes in the team. We believe that their combined efforts will bring goodwill to Team Nigeria and project the country’s image positively to the world.”
While many have questioned the move, it should be noted that Mikel is one of Nigeria’s most decorated footballers, having won the UEFA Champions League, Europa Cup, English Premier League, FA Cup at club level with Chelsea and the 2013 Africa Cup of Nations with the Super Eagles.
Furthermore, his assistant, Oshonaike won gold in the table tennis team event at the 2007 All Africa Games before scooping four silver at the next edition of the games in Maputo.
Howbeit, Mikel will be making his debut appearance at the Olympic Games, after he turned down the opportunity to be part of the football squad – which lost to Argentina in the final – at the Beijing 2008 Games.