Everton striker Yakubu Aiyegbeni has lashed out at critics who have questioned his place in the Nigerian team at the Africa Cup of Nations.

Yakubu rounded on his detractors after Nigeria’s 3-1 opening defeat to Egypt, insisting that the entire team did not play well in Tuesday’s Group C opener.

“I have always given my best to Nigeria, I am one of the best strikers in the country and my record is there for all to see,” said Yakubu, who was sidelined for most of last year with an achilles tendon injury.

“But when you have four, five defensive midfielders in the team who can’t get the ball over to the strikers, what can you do? We do not have a (Austin) ‘Jay Jay’ Okocha or a Sunday Oliseh.

“We have been struggling in most of our games because we do not have a creative midfielder, which is not the case, for instance, at my club, where there are players who can create openings for the strikers.

“It has been really very difficult for us and even the best strikers in the world would struggle in such a team.”
There have been suggestions that he is higher on the pecking order of other strikers as a result of his closeness to coach Shaibu Amodu.

“We all want to play coach and so everyone wants to pick the team,” he countered.
“But it is there for everybody to see that I have also enjoyed a good run with the coaches before Amodu simply because I’m good enough to be in the team.”

The Everton forward said despite the team’s shortcomings he was confident the Eagles will now put behind them the 3-1 reversal they suffered at the hands of the defending champions by beating Benin this weekend.
“Obviously, we were all very disappointed to have

lost that game.“We started well in the first 25, 30 minutes, but as soon as they drew level, we failed to defend well and eventually lost to a better team.

“We now have to focus on the next game, go out there and give our best to beat Benin.”
Tuesday’s loss has also placed a question mark over Amodu’s future and an early Nations cup exit could see him being replaced in time for the World Cup.

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