Osaze Odemwingie is the new enfant terrible of Nigerian football for complaining about perceived ill-treatment by his national team handlers. But what was he really complaining about?
His grievance was simply that after affirming his readiness to feature for the country in the build up to the 2013 Nations Cup in a phone conversation with his Coach Stephen Keshi, he was dropped from the 32-man list published a few days later. More so, he suffered the indinity of learning about his exclusion in the media!!
Now, was he wrong in complaining about his exclusion, especially as one of the team’s best players who was playing regularly? Was he totally wrong in taking to the internet to register his grievance when he learnt about his exclusion through the same medium?
Fast-forward a couple of months.
After being restricted to only a handful of substitute appearances during the Nations Cup due to poor performances, Captain Joseph Yobo has been considered surplus to replacement by the coach and promptly excluded from the team for the next few rounds of games. In pretty much the same manner as Odemwingie, Yobo was not given any prior notification by his coach that he will not be required.
One of the secrets of success in football management does not lie in being bossy (ironically our coach is tagged “Big Boss”); it is in effective communication built on mutual respect. The most successful coaches in world football are not foolish when they take out the time to explain certain to their senior players if they have to be dropped. This is where Coach Samson Siasia got it wrong; this is where Coach Keshi is getting it wrong.
The twist in the story now is that the Keshi-Yobo rift has led to a case of double standards of some sort. Whereas Osaze was ostracized, I hear the NFF (and even the National Assembly!) is planning a reconciliatory meeting between Keshi and Yobo. This move is commendable though I believe it is more for “political” than for footballing reasons as the NFF is hoping to host a lavish celebration in honour of Yobo’s potential 100 caps which lies with Keshi fielding him.
In another twist, Osaze is rumoured to be invited for this meeting.