Mikel, Khune Most Experienced Footballers In Rio | Independent Newspapers Limited
Newsletter subscribe


Mikel, Khune Most Experienced Footballers In Rio

Posted: Aug 2, 2016 at 3:00 am   /   by   /   comments (0)

John Mikel Obi, Super Eagles captain, and South African goalkeeper, Itumeleng Khune, are the two most experienced footballers in Rio with 75 national caps each.
Obi starred for Nigeria at the FIFA U-17 World Cup in Finland in 2003, where the team, coached by Augustine Eguavoen, failed to reach the knock –out rounds.
In 2005, he was in the U-20 squad coached by Samson Siasia and which won the Africa U-20 Championship in Benin Republic, before reaching the final of the FIFA U20 World Cup in The Netherlands few months later. The Flying Eagles were piped 2-1 in that final by an Argentine team that included Lionel Messi.
The 29 –year old midfield won his first senior cap for Nigeria in a friendly against Libya in Tripoli on August 17, 2005, and scored a brilliant goal against Zimbabwe at the Africa Cup of Nations in Egypt the following year as Nigeria won bronze.
Obi also scored at the Africa Cup of Nations in Ghana in 2008, though the Super Eagles were eliminated in the quarter –finals. The same year, he opted out of Nigeria’s squad to the men’s football tournament of the Olympics due to club commitments.
Two years later, Obi also missed the FIFA World Cup in South Africa as a result of injury, despite playing a huge role for the Eagles in qualifying.
The Chelsea FC star was key for Nigeria as the Super Eagles won the Africa Cup of Nations in South Africa, and also starred at the FIFA Confederations Cup in Brazil (where he scored against Uruguay). Mikel was also impressive for Nigeria in the 2014 FIFA World Cup qualifying series, and played in all four matches for the Super Eagles in Brazil.