Kidnaps, shoot-outs and semi-final certainties: World Cup of ups and downs for Chinese Super League stars
Nigeria’s John Obi Mikel played against Argentina just hours after being told his father was held for ransom, while one CSL player will make the final four in Russia
Nigeria skipper John Obi Mikel has revealed that he played his country’s final group game against Argentina just hours after being told his father, Pa Obi, had been kidnapped and held for a ransom of about US$28,000.
Mikel didn’t tell anyone before leading his country out and playing the full 90 minutes as they went down 2-1.
— Javier Mascherano (@Mascherano) 3 July 2018
His father was held for six days and has since been rescued after Nigerian police waged a shoot-out with the kidnappers. The Tianjin Teda footballer’s father was previously kidnapped in 2011.
Mikel’s Nigeria teammate, Odion Ighalo, came off the bench in their loss to Argentina and then received death threats after his misses cost the Super Eagles.
It’s been speculated that the striker may have played his last game for his country and will be dropped for the upcoming African Cup of Nations qualifiers.
Javier Mascherano was part of the Argentina side that triumphed over Nigeria and also the one that lost to France 4-3 in the round of 16 game.
The Hebei China Fortune midfielder retired in the aftermath of the defeat and ends his international career as Argentina’s record caps holder.
— Axel Witsel (@axelwitsel28) 2 July 2018
Of the other players from the CSL in Russia, there has been some good news.
Axel Witsel and Yannick Carrasco played in Belgium’s thrilling 3-2 comeback win over Japan, although Carrasco had been replaced by match-winner Nacer Chadli by the final whistle.
The Belgians face Brazil in the quarter-final on Saturday morning (HK time).
The pair may come up against Beijing Guoan’s Renato Augusto, although the midfield man was an unused sub in the team’s win over Mexico.
Either way, at least one player from the Chinese Super League is guaranteed to be part of a squad that is a game away from being in the World Cup final.