Keshi and the boys: History of a Feud Pt 1

Friday 14 March 2014

/ by Colin Udoh

Two of Stephen Keshi's biggest player revolts was with Osaze Odemwingie and his captain Joseph Yobo.
While those issues appear to have finally been resolved, the question on almost every lip is what really happened.
Colin Udoh explores the genesis of a dressing room disharmony.


Almost one year to the day since he matched Stephen Keshi's achievement of captaining Nigeria to an African Nations Cup triumph, Joseph Yobo was recalled to the Nigeria squad.

For Osaze Odemwingie, the wait goes on, but authoritative back channel chat is that he could also make a return before the World Cup. 

It was a welcome recall for Yobo, who is six appearances shy of a national record-setting century. As fate would decree, the defender was forced to missed the game with a slight injury to bring a twisted conclusion to what has been a long, polarizing and deeply perplexing turn of events.

But how did it happen that a coach and captain who appeared to be on the best of terms during the tournament, sitting next to each other at press conferences, driving in and out in the same vehicle, could fall apart so spectacularly? And near irreconcilably?

Yobo's injury early in the tournament, when his place was taken by Kenneth Omeruo is where it all kicked off.

The youngster did such a splendid job that even after the skipper recovered, Keshi had no hesitation in playing him on, despite Yobo's expectation that he would be re-instated.

But the veteran defender was not so much ticked off about losing his place than about about the fact that at no time did he get the courtesy, both as a senior player and as team captain, of being called in and spoken to by the coach to let him know where he stood.

Keshi, for his part, maintained that as boss, he was under no obligation to discuss his selection decisions with anyone outside of his coaching stag. Captain or not.

For all his quietness, Yobo is a deeply measured man, concerned about what image he portrays, and he is not one to take a perceived slight lightly. 

The inevitable was bound to happen.

It did. Mid-tournament, he confronted the coach to demand an explanation as to why he was not extended the courtesy of a heads up.

Keshi, not one to suffer a player questioning his decision, not even his captain, told him where he could get off. Yobo then decided to walk out of the camp.

Common sense, and intervention from the NFF and other team officials, not only doused that fire, but ensured that it was largely kept in-house.
It all looked buried in the euphoria of tournament victory, and when Keshi announced his shock resignation, Yobo was by his side when he went to respond to a fence-mending summons from then Sports Minister Bolaji Abdullahi.

All looked fine and dandy as the team returned home. That is, until Keshi named his first post tournament squad.

Yobo was neither in it, or given a prior knowledge. By the time it happened a second time, the defender was on the edge. But the tipping point was when he found out that the list was released a day after he had had a conversation with the coach, and nothing was said about him being left out.

Again, Yobo felt disrespected. And when quotes emerged from the coach that he found unsavory, the defender felt compelled to respond. And so began the war of words. And further alienation.

Plenty of water has passed under the bridge, and ruffled feathers have been smoothed over, thanks in large part to the silent, behind the scenes efforts of a select few gentlemen, especially the likes of Mumini Alao, and insistence by the NFF that as long as the player is seeing regular action at club level, he should be allowed to earn his hundred caps.

( Hide )
  1. Coaching Staff NOT STAG

  2. Keshi...good coach, bit his man-management has always been dodgy...


Get In Touch
Don't Miss
© All rights reserved
Made with by ColinUdoh