Earlier today, Mikel and the rest of the Super Eagles booked their place at Brazil 2014 with a rather easy 2-0 win over Ethiopia.
Chelsea's/Liverpool's Victor Moses got Nigeria rolling with a first half penalty kick, while Victor Obinna sealed matters with a free kick ten minutes from time. Kenneth Omeruo made his return from injury but was forced off in the second half after hurting himself (again!) in a mistimed challenge. In the midfield, Mikel was his usual national team-self, playing a role further forward than at his club.
It is these sorts of performances that have earned Mikel most of his plaudits this year. Last week, he was nominated for the BBC's African Footballer of the Year award and today, the CAF named him on their 25-man shortlist for their (official) version of the award as well. Joining Mikel are four of his Super Eagles teammates including goalkeeper Vincent Enyeama, lovingly named midfielder Sunday Mba (mmmmmbop!), and forwards Emmanuel Emenike and Ahmed Musa.
Last year's winner Yaya Touré received a nomination as well and will be looking to make it three wins in a row. Last man to accomplish that was Samuel Eto'o (2003-05) but he did not get a nod this year. His rival for the last decade as best African striker, Didier Drogba did. Other familiar names in the running to win this year's award include Rennes's Jonathan Pitroipa, scourge of all A.Coles Mohamed Salah, FM All-Star Nicolas N'Koulou, the revitalized Gervhinho, the exciting Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang, and Victor Wanyama.