Ex-Green Eagles’ star and a member of the 1980 squad that won Nigeria’s first Africa Cup of Nations’ trophy, Felix Owolabi (MON), says the future of Super Eagles’ captain, Joseph Yobo in the national team, should be left to the player and Coach Stephen Keshi to decide.
Yobo led Nigeria to her third triumph at the Africa Nations Cup in South Africa last month, but he spent more time on the bench during the competition, a development that has continued to attract comments from football fans concerning his future in the Super Eagles. Although the former Everton of England defender had announced South Africa 2013 as his last Nations Cup after six appearances at the biennial championship, he, however, made clear his wish to lead Nigeria to next year’s World Cup finals in Brazil.
“There’s a need for us to learn to appreciate anybody that has devoted his time and energy to serve the nation. Yobo has had a fulfilled career by leading Nigeria to win the Nations Cup for the third time,” Owolabi remarked in an exclusive chat with Saturday Sunsports. “I, however, wish to advise that the future of the young man (Yobo) in the Super Eagles’ squad should be left for him and the Head Coach, Stephen Keshi, to decide. Let us deal with the issue with caution rather than blow it out of proportion,” he warned. The former Shooting Stars of Ibadan dashing left winger, popularly known as Owoblow, also commented on the lingering rift between West Brom striker, Osaze Odemwingie and Keshi, especially, against the backdrop of Nwankwo Kanu’s recent call for the intervention by the Nigeria Football Federation (NFF). “Nobody is an island. I think Osaze has learnt his lesson and should be forgiven.
I liken his case with Keshi to that of Carlos Tevez and Roberto Mancini at Manchester City. I support Kanu’s call for a truce. This whole issue can be sorted out so that we can move forward with our football,” he suggested. Owoblow welcomes the invitation of new players to the national team to strengthen the Nations Cup-winning squad. “I agree with the popular saying that you don’t change winning team, but there is need to have a backup. The more, the merrier. I welcome the invitation of new players to the national team’s camp. But it would be difficult for new players to break into the main team now. “What it means is that the national team is becoming very competitive again the way it used to be during our time. The national team’s camp is no longer a place for jamboree, but it is now challenging for players,” he noted. The fiery left-winger said that the Super Eagles’ triumph at the Nations Cup in South Africa represents hope for Nigerian football, but cautioned that the feat would make Nigeria the target of every nation in the round leather game.
“Our success at the Nations Cup in South Africa gives us hope. I’m glad that Keshi has looked inwards to justify my position that the future of Nigerian football is in the belly of our domestic league. But it is important that we don’t go to sleep because we are now the African champions. “We must remember that the person on top is always the target, because everyone would want to displace you. So, this is the time for us to build on the success we made at the Nations Cup. We should be able to conquer all our opponents irrespective of their stature or pedigree,” he concluded.