Super Eagles captain Joseph Yobo has lamented being cast out by the team coach Stephen Keshi soon after leading the team to the Africa Cup of Nations triumph in South Africa, saying he won’t beg to play for the national team.
Yobo, who spoke to Sports Radio 88.9 Brila FM on Tuesday, lamented the way he was shut out despite being the captain of the team, saying it was disrespectful. He also alleged that one of the assistant coaches to Keshi has made the national team quite uncomfortable for him.
Yobo was not called up for the game against Kenya in Calabar a fortnight ago and said he was not informed as he had expected.
He said, “I don’t know what happened. I felt we were celebrating the African cup together and working together.But since winning the cup, nobody has spoken to me. Keshi has never called me, so I just focused on my club career.
“I was surprised that I wasn’t on the list. The whole thing was shocking to me; I don’t have a clue as to what happened. I wasn’t told the list was out because nobody spoke with me.”
The defender insisted in the interview that Keshi never informed him that he was dropping him ahead of that match.
“No, we have not spoken since the African Nations Cup ended. He didn’t contact me. I thought we had a relationship but he proved me wrong because there was no communication.
“If I am the captain of the national team, which just won the Nations Cup and then the next qualifying game, not even a phone call was put through to me, then that is very disrespectful. Probably that’s the way he has chosen to do it. He has his reasons for doing so but he hasn’t communicated with me. ”
The Fernabahce centre-back is baffled at Keshi’s decision to exclude him from the team.
“We spoke a lot on the way to winning the Nations Cup and everybody was happy. I said before that I wanted to carry on and we both agreed but then he goes ahead to name the team list, freezing me out without communication. For me I think that’s not proper.
“During the Nations Cup, everybody saw that I was injured and then I came back trying to get myself fit and get back in the game. And my fitness has been working efficiently. Since the Nations Cup ended, I have been playing matches and I am using my club career to prove to people that I am still okay and that I can still play at the highest level including the Europa Cup. But I was simply surprised that I was cut off.”
He said his relationship with Keshi had always been cordial having worked with him in several ways since he became a national team player over a decade ago.
“Being somebody I have followed for more than a decade, I knew what he could bring to the table. Everything started well but he has proven me wrong now. There’s no working relationship. I was hoping for some form of communication but he didn’t seem to like that.
“If he has issues with me, then he has to speak up because I’m not aware of anything. The breakdown shows that we are not getting along well anymore.”
Yobo added that he had problems with one of the assistant coaches of the team. Keshi is assisted by Daniel Amokachi, Sylvanus Okpala and goalkeeper trainer Ike Shorunmu.
“With the assistants, I wouldn’t like to mention names, but one of them seems to be intimidated by my achievements. He is so uncomfortable with my presence. If his playing days are over, then he should stick to being a coach. There is a lot going on that I am not aware of but when it comes to speaking the truth then I have to speak up.”
The Ogoni-born player said he would not beg to play for the Eagles after his immense contributions to the team.
“I have put in more than a decade for this national team and so I am really concerned that we continue to do well. Whatever transition is going on now, I feel I should be a part of it. But I have been frozen out completely and I find this very disrespectful. He is the boss, he calls the players, he calls the shot and so he should be the one calling the players and not the other way round. I am not going to be chasing the coach; I am not going to be begging to play for the national team and so I have to concentrate with my club career.”
The former Everton defender said the present development did not augur well for the Eagles.
“I was not in Calabar but if I am shut out like this because probably someone is intimidated by my achievements, then all is certainly not well going into the future.”
And referring to Emmanuel Emenike’s disagreement with Keshi over the issue of communication, Yobo said, “A lot goes on in the national team that is not reported; that we try to keep to ourselves. In September when I got injured, I was treated in the same way and so when Emenike complained, I could understand he was truly disappointed because I have suffered it in the past too.”
Meanwhile, Keshi has admitted not calling his captain to inform him about his exclusion from the Kenya game, adding that Yobo was still important to the national team.
He told Brila FM, “It’s true that I did not call Yobo to inform him that he will not feature in the game against Kenya because I knew how he was going to feel. I did not want to talk with him because I know how we talked in South Africa when he wasn’t starting and I wanted to avoid a repeat of that.
“Yobo is still important in the team; it’s just that at the time, he wasn’t needed. I thought he was going to understand because we talked a lot in South Africa.
“I gave him examples of myself and (Nwankwo) Kanu when we were not playing at some point during our playing careers. I am not going to say because Yobo is the captain, then I have to keep using him even if I don’t need him.”