Super Eagles’ captain Mikel Obi has been put under intense pressure to lead the team to a resounding victory against Iceland on Friday, as well as fulfill his promise to President Muhammad Buhari that he (Mikel) is a man of his words.
NationSport confirmed that President Buhari spoke with Captain of the three-time African Champions few hours before Nigeria tackled Croatia in their first World Cup fixture in Russia, where Mikel reassured the President that the team would not disappoint.
Presidential delegation led by Sports Minister, Solomon Dalung as well as CBN Governor; Godwin Emefiele with the Nigerian Ambassador to Russia Steve Ugbah facilitated the phone conversation.
“If you can see that after the defeat, Mikel was down and withdrew more than his teammates, to the extent that he could not explain the defeat in a post-match interview. He knew the weight of disappointment.
“I can tell you for free that Mr President spoke with him(Mikel) on behalf of the team before the Croatia match.
“President Buhari reassured him(Mikel) of the full support of the nation. You can remember that team visited the President at Aso-rock before their departure for the England friendly where he had gave his assurance,” source in the know who asked to remain anonymous told NationSport.
Odediran Ogunsanya, a sport psychologist/analyst who shared views on the development said: “Super Eagles would have ordinarily won the match because the Croats were not at their best, but they could not because of the pressure they shouldered.
“The president’s call few hours to the kick off of the Croatia match should have been done days earlier. The timing for the call apparently pull up weight on the team.
“Was there any need for that? For me, I do not think so. The team psychologist should not have allowed these big shots from the Presidency to have access to the team. The team did not get the right inspiration from them. Their presence was a direct pressure which should not have happened.
“See, this is psychology, I can tell you that Eagles would beat Iceland with less pressure from government and from the team officials. Nigeria fans should please let the boys enjoy the game and with ease they will score and secure the much needed victory against Iceland.”
Mikel’s promise to President Buhari even though it fell flat in the face of the 0-2 loss inflicted by Croatia on Saturday, still hold hope as the Nigerian captain is now ready to make Nigerians smile in the next game against Iceland on Friday.
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