Mikel Obi questioned the Video Assistant Referee decision which denied a Nigeria a second penalty in their last group match against Argentina in Saint Petersburg on Tuesday.
The below-par South American side won the encounter 2-1 in the controversial clash to land in the Round of 16.
The match was tied at 1-1 and Nigeria were coasting towards the next round when the unlikely hero of the encounter Marcos Rojo headed the ball against his own arm in the box.
Nigeria, who had cancelled out Lionel Messi’s first-half goal through Victor Moses’ well-taken penalty, appealed for a penalty.
Forty-one-year-old Turkish referee CuneytCakir was forced to consult VAR for a definitive verdict as the Nigerians insisted it was a penalty, before ruling that Rojo did not commit a foul.
Rojo went ahead to win the game for La Albiceleste, and the Super Eagles captain Mikel was left venting his fury at Cakir and VAR.
Speaking to reporters at the Mixed Zone after the match, the veteran former Chelsea midfielder only refused to hit the nail on the head – that his team were robbed.
However, the 31-year-old, who guided the Eagles to a second round exit at the 2014 World Cup in Brazil, said, “I have nothing against VAR but I would say it goes for the lesser teams and works for the big teams.”
Mikel said the referee admitted that the Manchester United defender headed the ball onto his own arm but refused to explain to him why he waved Nigeria’s penalty appeal.
He said, “We’ve seen it again in the dressing room, it was a clear penalty. There wasn’t any way the referee could not give that.
“The referee looked at the VAR. He said it hit the hand. I asked why he did not give us a penalty, he said he did not know.”
“We did everything we could,” the South Africa 2013 Africa Cup of Nations winner said.
“In the second half we pushed and pushed. It just wasn’t to be. It is a young team and in four years most of them will be ready for this tournament.
“I’m very proud of the boys and what we have achieved. I think we have done really well. We have to keep going.”