Nigeria’s captain, Mikel Obi, says the Super Eagles would have won the World Cup early on but for petty strife’s that killed that ambition
Speaking with The Guardian of UK, Mikel recalled that internal crises and not lack of talent are Nigeria’s undoing.
“African teams always tend to have problems inside the team,” Mikel says. “It might be bonuses, friendships, organisation. If the Nigerian teams were as well organised as the Europeans, we would have won the World Cup by now.
In Brazil, the financial aspect was a massive problem. Players didn’t want to train, they wanted to go on strike because they hadn’t received the bonus. This has to stop. We’ve stressed that it has to be sorted out this time.”
The turmoil in Brazil had followed similar internal conflict at the 2010 World Cup in South Africa, when Nigeria departed at the group phase.
Mikel missed the tournament through injury but he heard the stories and, afterwards, the then Nigeria president, Goodluck Jonathan, ruled that the national team should be suspended from competition for two years. The measure would be rescinded but it illustrated the depths of the despair; the sense that the squad had become ungovernable.
“There were massive problems in the camp and that’s why the president got upset,” Mikel says. “He said: ‘Until you guys fix yourselves up, that’s it. No more.’ The public were upset but they were in support of it because they also wanted whatever was going on to stop. We couldn’t keep going to tournaments and making a mockery of ourselves.”