Everton striker Yakubu Aiyegbeni has lashed out at critics who have questioned his place in the Nigerian team at the Africa Cup of Nations.
â€œI 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,â€ said Yakubu, who was sidelined for most of last year with an achilles tendon injury.
â€œBut when you have four, five defensive midfielders in the team who canâ€™t get the ball over to the strikers, what can you do? We do not have a (Austin) â€˜Jay Jayâ€™ Okocha or a Sunday Oliseh.
â€œWe 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.
â€œIt has been really very difficult for us and even the best strikers in the world would struggle in such a team.â€
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.
â€œWe all want to play coach and so everyone wants to pick the team,â€ he countered.
â€œBut it is there for everybody to see that I have also enjoyed a good run with the coaches before Amodu simply because Iâ€™m good enough to be in the team.â€
The Everton forward said despite the teamâ€™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.
â€œObviously, we were all very disappointed to have
lost that game.â€œWe 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.
â€œWe now have to focus on the next game, go out there and give our best to beat Benin.â€
Tuesdayâ€™s loss has also placed a question mark over Amoduâ€™s future and an early Nations cup exit could see him being replaced in time for the World Cup.