Veteran Nigerian midfielder and skipper has accused the referee of bias in his officiating of the Super Eagles game against Argentina.
The Super Eagles were knocked out of the competition after failing to achieve at least a draw against a Messi-led side, who defeated them 2-1 in the final group D match.
The 31-year-old, who guided the Eagles to a second round exit at the 2014 World Cup in Brazil, claimed the referee failed to award Nigeria a penalty when Marcos Rojo handled the ball in the box.
“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.
“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.”