Femi Solaja in Cairo
Super Eagles Coach Gernot Rohr, yesterday ruled out the possibility of Captain John Obi Mikel starting in the third place match against the Carthage Eagles of Tunisia this night in Cairo.
Nigeria and Tunisia will take the centre stage against this evening for the mandatory classification match for the bronze medal after conceding defeat respectively to their opponents in the semi finals last Sunday.
The classification match always go with the tradition of playing players who had hitherto not been part of the main stream to have a bite of action in the consolatory encounter.
Mikel who is likely going to play his last game for Nigeria in this clash has been ruled out of starting even as there are clamour here in Cairo that he should be given a befitting valedictory honour.
But Coach Rohr has other ideas on how to honour his captain without starting this game from the very first minute.
“No sentiment about whether he is playing his last match of AFCON or last game for the national team. All I know is that we have an official match and many Nigerians who are yet to recover from Sunday’s match will be looking forward to a consolation win, hence no room for any experiment.
“Mikel Obi still remains the captain of the team and we must remember that he was in the starting line up in two matches before he got injured and two days ago he overcame his knee injury meaning that he is not fully fit to play the match at hand.
“Many people including the media questioned his inclusion on the final 23-man list when I had to drop some players who were part of the qualifying series.
“That is life for you and I have no regrets in the selection and we have to move on,” he explained before the media at the pre match conference yesterday afternoon.
After the first two matches, Obi told the world media that this tournament will be his last AFCON for the national team.
THISDAY recalled that in 2006 then Captain, Austin Jay Jay Okocha just managed to play in some of the matches till the third play match against Senegal when he came in as late substitute.