For Mikel John Obi, it was the boyhood dream that soured. “It was a disaster,” the Nigeria midfielder says of the 2014 World Cup in Brazil – his first involvement at a finals.
From the outside looking in, there was a depressingly familiar undercurrent in the form of a pay dispute between the Nigeria Football Federation and the players. It led to a boycott of training from the latter days before the last-16 tie against France, which they lost 2-0. From the inside looking out, it was simply toxic. “There were a lot of problems in the camp which a lot of people didn’t see, the media didn’t see – we kind of hid it under the table,” Mikel says. “The relationships between the players were not good and there was no discipline. There was no good feeling, no good vibe. “It almost got to people being pinned up against dressing-room walls, although not quite. It was confrontation and arguments. Players wanted to do their own thing and they didn’t think about the team.” Read more