Siasia appoints ‘natural’ Mikel Dream Team captain

Samson Siasia

Chelsea midfielder, John Obi Mikel, has been named captain of Nigeria national U23 team by Coach Samson Siasia.

Mikel, 29, heads to this summer’s Rio Olympic as one of two over aged players in the Dream Team VI, alongside goalkeeper, Daniel Akpeyi.

The Super Eagles skipper, who was also appointed captain of Team Nigeria to the showpiece, now has an added responsibility after being selected to spearhead the football team.

He replaces Azubuike Okechukwu who now drops to his deputy.

And Siasia, the man saddled with the responsibility of leading Nigeria to its first gold medal since 1996, revealed the decision to pick the Chelsea superstar was “natural”.

“It’s just natural for me to pick Mikel as our captain,” Siasia announced.

“Aside the fact that he is the captain of the Super Eagles, he is also Team Nigeria captain.”

The gaffer explained that the decision was reached after meeting with both players and officials – with Azubuike receiving the news in good faith.

“So after meeting with both of them and explaining my position, I am pleased to say Azubuike who has been our captain understood and was happy to hand over the captain’s band to Mikel.

“It is a thing of joy for my team to produce the first footballer to captain Team Nigeria to the Olympics. This, to me, is more than gratifying.”

Meanwhile, the team will depart training camp base in Atlanta, USA, to Rio on Monday, August 1 after the Nigeria Football Federation (NFF) concluded arrangement for them to be moved via a chartered flight to Manaus.

The African champions will begin their opening game against Japan on August 4 at the Amazônia Arena, Manaus before facing Colombia and Sweden in other Group B matches.