• Saturday, April 13, 2024
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A house up in arms


  In recent time there has been ruckus in the house; some family members, for one reason or the other, have shattered the peace and understanding in the Super Eagles.

The implications are obvious and the Football Federation felt sufficiently concerned to institute a committee to ‘settle the warring parties.’ Now that is a different matter for another day.

It was Osaze Odemwingie who has, more rapidly than a rattler, become the enfant terrible of Nigerian football, that started the cacophony of complaints.

His grouse was that he was not picked for the 2013 African Cup of Nations. In what has become his style he took to Twitter to ventilate his thoughts on the matter; thoughts which sometimes bother on the trenchant.

“Every manager has got his own plans and tactics – if I don’t figure in your plans, please be honest to tell me directly,” Odemwingie said.

“For 10 years I gave my all to the country as a player on the pitch, played for the nation and fans, not individuals.”

In an ironic twist team skipper Joseph Yobo picked up the mantle of complaints from Osaze. Yobo’s position is that he should have been consulted before he was dropped from the team that played Kenya in a World Cup qualifier in Calabar in March.

Yobo had forgotten that he had taken Osaze to task when the latter made his views known after been left out of the Nations Cup team. Convenient! Interesting!

“We spoke just right after winning the 2013 Africa Cup of Nations and since then, we have not spoken and no one has got in touch with me since then, and I feel that as the captain of the national team, I should have been informed (of being dropped for the Kenya match).

“I am disappointed and feel disrespected because the coach should have called me considering my status in the team,” Yobo fumed.

Sandwiched between these two was the complaint of Emmanuel Emenike. Although of a different nature, the forward who was Nigeria’s top scorer en route winning a third African title, felt used by Keshi and the federation for not calling to find out his condition after copping an injury on national duty in South Africa.

Keshi has been measured in his response to these outbursts. He has repeatedly said that Osaze was still part of his team, especially if the striker amends his ways. Although he was shocked at Yobo’s attack, the Big Boss continues to maintain that Yobo remains his captain. Only on Monday in Lagos, Keshi sued for peace. He wanted journalists to be more circumspect in their reportage, not to be overly sensational and blow the stories out of proportion. Now, that is neither here nor there.

The questions however, that must necessarily come out of all this, are does a coach have a duty to call and inform a player ahead of his exclusion from his squad, whether senior player or not? Do these players do the same in their various clubs in Europe? That is do they ask their club coaches to explain to them why they are not part of the squad for a match?

Should Yobo be talking about being disrespected, at any rate non invitation can’t be equated with disrespect, at this time when it is obvious that younger elements have driven the old lion from his pride? Is there or should there be a hard and fast rule to this issue?

A clutch of former Nigeria internationals give their opinions on this matter, which if not properly handled, has the capacity to undermine the work Keshi is doing, and ultimately qualification for Brazil.

“I’m surprised that Yobo made that statement; he has no right whatsoever to query the coach. It is the coach’s duty to pick the players he wants and also drop them,” points out former national team skipper Henry Nwosu.

“After all Keshi himself was a former captain of the team and he wasn’t playing, but I am happy that he (Keshi) is handling the issue in a mature way.

“My advice to Yobo is that he should now consider resting, he has played his part, has served Nigeria so well, but now that younger players have arrived on the scene it is time to go. I think Nigeria should organize a testimonial to bid him farewell.”

Another ex-international Thompson Oliha aligns his views with Nwosu’s.

“It all depends on the coaches. They always have their reasons for inviting or not inviting particular players; the point here is no player can be bigger than his coach,” says the retired Eagles midfielder.

“Yobo is a good player no doubt, but the emphasis as always is on the green white green, not on individual players. And now that we have good younger players coming in, we should be celebrating. The prayer is that our children should be better and greater than us; Yobo should see it in this light.”

Joe Erico was a member of the coaching crew, which included Keshi, that qualified Nigeria for the 2002 World Cup and he is unequivocal in his stance.

“It is clear that Yobo should quit now, that is the way it is. It happened to me, it happened to Keshi himself. He is even lucky he’s been treated with respect,” notes the former Green Eagles goal keeper.

“He has the most caps of all Nigeria players; he is lucky. At any rate has he forgotten what he told Osaze recently? A coach makes up his list, decides who to invite. It is not his duty to inform any player before hand of his decisions. He takes the decisions and also the blames. Period.”

But Ifeanyi Udeze who played with Yoboin the Super Eagles from the early 2000s has a slightly different view.

“Keshi is the coach no doubt, but Yobo is the captain. I’m not supporting either of them, but I don’t think it’s out of place to call up your captain and as a matter of courtesy tell him that ‘look man you’re not part of my plans for the next match.’ You let him know that is why he’s the captain,” Udeze reasons.

“If there is trouble is a team for instance, the coach can’t talk to the players, it is the captain that can do that well because he is one of them. It is about respect and relationship and it also happens in Europe. So we should not make too much out of it.

“It is not good to have divisions in the team. Afcon is in the past now, we need to qualify for the World Cup and we need unity to achieve that”