Ex-Super Eagles striker Daniel (the Bull) Amokachi was recently quoted as claiming that he would prefer Austin JJ Okocha to John Obi Mikel in a more competitive encounter. This has now led to comparison between the former Bolton Wanderers midfielder and the Ex-Chelsea Europa League medalist among some Super Eagles supporters.
Frankly speaking, there can be a sort of uselessness attached to comparing players at times. But if we must, I think it is advisable not to allow sentiments cloud our sense of judgement. There is only one attribute that Okocha surpasses Mikel in which is dribbling abilities. Of anything else, it is a case of six of one and half a dozen of the other.
Comparisons: 1996 vs 2016 Olympics: Although Nigeria won Gold in 1996 compared to Bronze in 2016, I think Mikel’s efforts were more felt in the latter than Okocha in the former. Mikel, playing an advanced midfield role, was the creative spark for the attackers and wingers to feed off. He created goal scoring opportunities and scored a goal. He was phenomenal against Germany in the semi-final where he almost created a goal (that Sadiq Umar spurned) and nearly scored (that the Germans defended last ditch).
Okocha did contribute to efforts to win gold medal for the Dream team in 1996 however, these weren't overly compelling. He missed a penalty against Brazil in the semi-finals. Winner: Mikel. 1994 vs 2014: Okocha was simply amazing against Italy in the second round of the world cup. His dribbles were neat and purposeful whilst his ball retention bought Nigeria time before a fatal equaliser and latter, a penalty left how hopes in tatters. Mikel on the other hand against France in 2014 second round offered very little to efforts of surmounting the insurmountable. He lost possession in dangerous areas and failed to stamp his authority in match. Winner: Okocha. 1994 vs 2013: Mikel had arguably his best season for Nigeria in 2013. He was near unplayable in the Africa Cup of Nations. He won the battle of the midfield against a well armed Ivory Coast set up whilst his cool calm and composed approach brought a serenity that helped propel Nigeria to the Afcon trophy. Okocha, for his part, played in the final against Zambia in the 1994 Afcon but the stage was dominated by others like Amuneke, Yekini and Adepoju. His contributions were good but not the deciding factor. Winner: Mikel Qualifiers: Mikel and Okocha served the Super Eagles in non-tournament matched with the former Bolton man never failing to enthrall and entertain. Mikel – in fairness – has had some forgettable matches for the Super Eagles where fans were happy to see the back of him. Winner: Okocha. Club Football: Super Eagles fans are shameless in their desire to see their footballers play for top clubs. Not only that, to then feature in the Champions League and Europa League competitions brings added hysteria. To then go on and lift this trophies is nothing short of overwhelming excitement for the Super Eagles fans. Mikel brought this home with his exploits at Chelsea. Winner: Mikel. To conclude, Okocha in your team can help win you trophies; Mikel in your team can help win you trophies. Each is unique in what he brings.