Nigeria captain John Obi Mikel has not retired from international football, a team spokesman said Tuesday, despite the former Chelsea star being sidelined for the third straight match.
Mikel, who plays for Chinese side Tianjin Teda, has not played for the Super Eagles since he led the team at the World Cup finals in Russia in June.
He had been given time to recover from a series of injuries but is now back to full fitness yet was not named in Gernot Rohr’s 23-man squad to take on South Africa later this month.
“Mikel has not retired from international football,” said team spokesman Toyin Ibitoye. “He remains the captain of the national team.
“But the reality of it is that he is not getting any younger. And the positive (from this) is that other players now have a chance to step up in his absence.”
Victor Moses, 27, who played alongside Obi Mikel at Chelsea, announced his retirement from international football after the World Cup.
Mikel, 31, made his debut for the Super Eagles in 2005 and has represented the county at Under-17, Under-20 and Olympic team levels.
He has played in two World Cups, in 2014 and 2018.