WHEN Joseph Michael Yobo, former Captain of Nigeria’s senior national football team, the Super Eagles, was appointed Assistant Coach of the team, opinions were divided in football circles.
Those who applauded the appointment pointed to his rich resume which included the rare accolade of being capped 101 times as he represented the Super Eagles at three FIFA World Cups and six Africa Cup of Nations tournaments.
And those who frowned were quick to point to his inexperience. But, on February 12, 2020, Yobo was confirmed Assistant Coach of the Super Eagles. The national teams have remained the unifying factors for the country and most Nigerians who bemoan the woes of the nation have resorted to football for succour.
Recently, the Super Eagles played the Mexico national team in an international friendly in the USA. With the absence of the foreign-based, a rare opportunity fell on Nigeria’s domestic players to represent the country. There is no trophy for winning a friendly match. But most countries use friendly matches as pedestals to achieve the ultimate goal.
Unfortunately, the Technical Adviser, Gernot Rohr, who has not hidden his love for already-made foreign-based players, turned his back on the home-based Super Eagles.
Sports Minister, Sunday Dare, was furious and lashed out on Rohr and his employers – the NFF, for their unwholesome neglect of domestic footballers. The Nigerian football authorities said nothing.
Yobo who ordinarily should have taken over the coaching of the Eagles was conspicuously missing. It was Austin Eguavoen (Technical Director) who announced that Yobo had excused himself from the friendly because of “family issues”. So, Nigerians were shocked when the same Yobo emerged in the Supersports studios in South Africa doing punditry on the ongoing Euro 2020 Nations Cup. That was an insult and a slap on the face of Nigerians.
In the absence of Gernot Rohr, his assistant (Yobo) ought to take charge till the Federation appoints a new coach. He should be responsible for the training and coaching of the team and take them to any available competitions that take place during his watch. He’s expected to analyse opponents, draw up competition plans, determine tactics in competitions in consultation with the Technical Director and conduct pre- and post-event analyses. Yobo willfully abdicated this responsibility.
His insufferable arrogance of rubbing mud on the trust bestowed on him should not be treated with kid gloves. He has clearly shown where his love lies. He should be sanctioned and Rohr’s appointment reappraised.
The time has come for those elected to govern our football to rise and instill discipline. Sports Minister Sunday Dare should move beyond his theatrics. NFF President and FIFA Council member, Amaju Pinnick, should bring sanity to our football. The time for our football to grow beyond its current level of stagnation is now.