Daily Trust (Abuja)

20 February 2013

Nigeria: Yobo Urged to Quit Now

A sports commentator, James Oparaekeocha, has advised Super Eagles captain, Joseph Yobo, to retire from international football now that the ovation is loud.

In an interview in Enugu yesterday, Oparaekeocha said the central defender's 14 years in international football had been eventful and fulfilling.

He recalled that Yobo came to limelight in 1999 when he played in the FIFA U-21 World Cup hosted by the country.

"Between 1999 and 2013 is 14 years. That is no doubt quite a long time; in fact he has tried, when you compare him with others who did not last up to 10 years in the national team, he recalled.

Oparaekeocha, who is the interim chairman of the NUJ in Enugu State, said the moment Yobo left the English Premiership for a Turkish club, he knew his days in active football were numbered.

"Ever since, we have seen how his speed has reduced drastically in such a way that he is now more of a burden to whoever is pairing him in the heart of the defence.

"At the Nations Cup proper, he started the first match but got injured before the end of the game. For me, that injury was a good omen for the nation because he would have sent us packing from the tournament long before the final.

"The moment a defender loses pace, he will only be struggling to meet up with the fast pace of deadly strikers," he said.

The commentator said the emergence of youngster Kenneth Omerua, who paired with home boy Godfrey Oboabona, was the secret of the country's success.

"Today, Yobo has the highest number of caps in Nigeria's football history; he is the third Nigerian captain to lift the Nations Cup trophy.

"Yobo was lucky Keshi has the experience of being a onetime non-playing captain and understands what it means to sit on the bench and be given the arm band to lift the trophy after your colleagues have fought hard to win the cup.

"He has passed his prime and anyone who is close to him should tell him that now is the time to bow out in style.

What he should concentrate on now is an international farewell match either in Port Harcourt, Abuja, Lagos or better still in Calabar, where he will drag his international colleagues in England and Turkey to play his farewell game and engrave his name in history," he said.

Yobo said shortly after the Nations Cup that the just-concluded tournament would be his last continental championship.

NAN

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