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.
NationsSport 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.
“Yes, Mr President spoke with Mikel on behalf of the team before the Croatia match,” Sources in the know who asked to remain anonymous told NationSport that President Buhari assured them of the full support of the nation,’ however, the timing was wrong. I think the team’s visit to President at Aso-rock before their departure for the England friendly was enough,”
Odediran Ogunsanya, a sport psychologist/analyst who shared a view 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 not to disappoint Nigerians and Mr. President who also spoke to them few hours into the match.
“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 have access to the team. Their presence could not help matters as 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 could beat Iceland with less pressure from off the pitch. Nigeria should please let the boys enjoy the game and freely they will score and secure the victory on Friday with less pressure also from the team officials.