By Ben Efe
Former Super Eagles captain and coach, Christian Chukwu has called on Joseph Yobo, current captain of the team and coach Stephen Keshi who led the team to a victorious run at the last Africa Cup of Nations to sheath their sword, stressing that their on-going feud could spell doom for the national team.
Yobo and Keshi have been engaged in a war of words over the omission of the longest serving member of the Eagles from the list of World Cup qualifiers and series of other matches including friendlies and the Confederations Cup in Brazil in June.
Chukwu said: “I expected more maturity from the captain and the coach. There is no need for what I will describe as a press war. If there was any issue, I reckon that it should be sorted out amicably for the betterment of the team. Yobo should have called Keshi to find out why he was not in the team. And I expected Keshi to have explained to his captain why he was dropped.
Yobo is still an important member of the team. He will come in handy in the mobilization of the players, but he should not expect to be in the field all the time. The decision for him to play or not squarely rests with coach.
The Eagles cannot afford this kind of distraction after they won the Nations Cup in South Africa. The team must be united more than ever, this kind of bickering is capable of breeding disunity,” said Chukwu who captained the Eagles to their first Nations Cup win in 1980. As a coach he led the team to a third place finish at the 2004 Nations Cup in Tunisia.
Yobo with 94 appearances for the national team was used sparingly by Keshi during the Nations Cup in South Africa.
In his defence, Keshi said that “The truth is that Kenneth Omeruo and Godfrey Oboabona playing in the central defence have been doing well. So calling Yobo for a game like that of Kenya and then dropping him to the bench or out of the team would be demeaning to him.”
But Yobo would not take that excuse and insisted that he has been disrespected by Keshi.
“I have been with the national team for more than 10 years, I don’t expect to play every game if I can’t give my all. But [Keshi’s] attitude was quite disappointing. I’ve never demanded special treatment, only to be given the same respect I’ve given to all my coaches and the country.
“I won’t be around forever but we need to halt the sad exit episodes. When you treat older players badly the younger ones are witnessing a terrible trend.”
Goalkeeper Vincent Enyeama and the team’s deputy captain also spoke in the same respect. He said it was depressing that Yobo could be treated with levity after all his contributions to the team.