From KUNLE SOLAJA, Royal Bafokeng Stadium, Rustenburg
There were wild speculations at the Royal Bafokeng Stadium in Rustenburg that the engine room of Nigeria’s midfield, Mikel Obi, will miss the potentially difficult quarterfinal match against Cote d’Ivoire after he was given a yellow card in the match against Ethiopia. The discussion dominated the post match conference as both the Nigerian coach, Stephen Keshi, and the media officer for the zone, Emmanuel Maradas, were not sure whether the late minute yellow given to Mikel was his second in this tournament.
Daily Sunsports can authoritatively state that Mikel is free to play the quarter final match on Sunday. Contrary to the wide spread belief by the international journalists, Mikel was not given any caution in Nigeria’s opening game with Burkina Faso last week Monday.
A call to CAF Office in Johannesburg also confirmed that Mikel was not cautioned in the game with either Burkina Faso or Zambia. However, it is Fegor Ogude, who will miss the quarter finals as Ambrose Efe, who has served his two match-suspension returns. Fegor got his yellow card in the 24th minute of the game with Burkina Faso after he tripped Jonathan Pitroipa.
He got another yellow card in the match against Ethiopia in the 63rdminute, barely a minute after Sunday Mba was also cautioned. According to the regulations, any player with two yellow cards in the group games will miss the next match. That explains why Fegor Ogude will not play on Sunday. But the other players – Godfrey Oboabona, Nosa Igiebor, Ahmed Musa, Mikel Obi, Sunday Mba – who had just a yellow card will have the cautions wiped out in the second phase of the competition.