AFCON 2013 Qualifer: Keshi to snub Mikel for Liberia clash
Super Eagles coach, Stephen Keshi Tuesday said he would not consider John Mikel Obi for a call up when Nigeria play Liberia in the final qualifying matches for South Africa 2013 later in the year.
Keshi also said he would overlook two other established internationals, Osaze Odemwengie and Taye Taiwo, when the Eagles step up preparations ahead of the trip to Monrovia on September 7-9.
Mikel has rarely figured in Keshi's plans since the former national captain was appointed the coach in November 2011.
He was also a major absentee when the Eagles battled Rwanda, Namibia and Malawi in the recent Africa Cup of Nations and 2014 World Cup qualifiers.
The Chelsea enforcer was ignored for those games after he failed to call Keshi to confirm his availability for those matches as demanded by Keshi.
But it appears his international lock out will now last longer than initially imagined after Keshi pronounced Tuesday that he was not ready to give Mikel a role against Liberia as that would unsettle the new team he is building.
According to Keshi, Mikel, Taiwo and Odemwengie were part of a group of 50 players compiled by the technical crew for Nigeria's international fixtures. He said the affected players would be considered when needed, but certainly not on the trip to Monrovia.
Earlier this year, Nigeria, largely made up of local based players, defeated Liberia 2-0 in Monrovia in a friendly match.
“It is not in my habit to be changing my team. I have a team that I want to keep the faith in and there is no need to disrupt the understanding in the team. Mikel is in my 50-man list and I will invite him when I think he is needed. But for the moment, I can say he won't be in the team that will be named for the mission to Monrovia,” Keshi said.
He said he wanted to keep faith in the trio of Gabriel Rueben, Obiora Nwankwo and Fegor Ogude, who have marshalled the central midfield role while Mikel was left from the international roster.
Keshi also revealed his desire to consider Obafemi Martin and Obinna Nsofor for international duty after a long break.
Newcastle's Shola Ameobi and China based Yakubu Aiyegbeni are also understood to be in his expanded 50-man team.
Former national captain, Jay Jay Okocha recently lent his voice in support of Mikel's return to the Eagles mainstream.
Okocha noted that such invitation would be a psychological tool for Nigeria as Mikel is a pillar of Chelsea who are the UEFA Champions League winners.
Keshi has already submitted his programme to the Nigeria Football Federation (NFF).