There have been doubts over his level of fitness having stayed off Chelsea trainings and matches for awhile. Even though Mikel spoke last week insisting he was fit, fresh doubts were created after he was not listed by Chelsea on Saturday against Southampton in the English FA Cup.
Mikel and his teammate Victor Moses had pleaded to report to camp after the FA Cup game but only Moses eventually featured and scored in the 5-1 thrashing of Southampton.
On Sunday the two players trained with the rest of the team after arriving in Portugal late on Saturday.
“I’m okay now. I had a knock two weeks ago and was told to rest for sometime but now I am fit and I actually started training two days ago (Friday) with the Chelsea first team. So there is no fear about any injury. I’m ready for the Nations Cup,” Mikel said.
But the Chelsea stars were not the last to arrive in the Faro camp. The last two players to arrive in camp were Villareal of Spain hitman, Ikechukwu Uche, and Israeli based goalkeeper, Austin Ejide.
By lunch time Sunday, 31 players including injured Rizespur of Turkey striker, Uche Kalu were in camp battling for shirts. Kalu has since withdrawn from competing for roles.
The implication is that virtually all the players available beat the deadline except for the last two who were excused to arrive by Sunday morning.
It also means that Newcastle striker Shola Ameobi, who was also invited, decided to pursue his club career rather than be in the Africa cup finals. Ameobi and Millwall defender Danny Shittu had strong oppositions from their teams on joining Nigeria.
Team captain Joseph Yobo on Sunday assured Nigerian fans that they were heading to South Africa determined to win the African trophy.
He said, “We are here, ready to wear the colours of our great nation and we will not relent until we reach our goal. Luckily, we have a coaching crew that understands us well and I’m sure all the players are ready to deliver.”
The Nations Cup starts January 19.