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Fitness 80% determinant of who wins AFCON, Eagles training hard – Mikel Obi

Mikel returns from injury

Super Eagles captain, John Mikel Obi says a fit Super Eagles squad will stand a greater chance of winning the Africa Cup of Nations (AFCON), billed to kickoff this month.

The skipper, who only recently returned to the team since the 2018 FIFA World Cup in Russia, says fitness always plays a big part in determining the team that wins the African tournament.

The talk on fitness being the key to triumph had earlier been pointed out by coach Gernot Rohr, and speaking to the press at the team’s camp in Asaba, Delta State, Mikel concurred and provided a statistic.

“Well, I think obviously, fitness is going to play a big part in this tournament, it always does when it comes to African football. Fitness always plays 80 percent part on who wins the tournament,” the former Chelsea star said.

”If you look back at 2013 when we won it, we were one of the fittest teams, we were well drilled, we put in the hard work during the camp, we knew exactly what we were doing. We were really fit.

”That’s what we are doing now, training twice a day. If you want to win this trophy you have to do things like that.”

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He added: “We want to be in the final and win the tournament but we also need to know we are not the outright favourite s, we have to remain cool, calm, just do what we have to do, not look at other teams.”

Mikel Obi was not part of the qualifiers for the tournament due to his long absence from the national team, but the captain says he is now focus on helping the Eagles win the AFCON.

He ended a two-year stint in China last December and signed with English Championship side Middlesbrough to wrap up the rest of the season.

“Going to Middlesbrough, obviously I came back from China, I had two years there, I had a great time. I have no regret going there. I came to Middlesbrough, played few games.

“The team (Super Eagles) did well, now I am back here to help them. My focus now is to help the team win another Nations Cup. I know only few players that are here that have managed to win but, my focus is to help this young team win the Nations Cup,” he concluded.

32-year-old Mikel Obi won the AFCON in 2013 under the leadership of late Stephen Keshi.

The 2019 AFCON is set to begin on June 21, with the Eagles kicking off their campaign against Burundi on June 22.

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Ben Ugbana

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