Bribery Scandal: Yobo Calls for Caution

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Joseph Yobo...calls for caution on the allegations of bribery leveled against former Super Eagles coach

Femi Solaja

Newly appointed Assistant Coach of the Super Eagles, Joseph Yobo, has called for caution on the bribery allegation leveled against a former coach of the teamp prior to the 2014 World Cup held in Brazil.

Nigeria crashed out of that tournament in the second round after late two goals were scored by France at the match played in Brasilia. It was third time Nigeria reached knockout phase in six appearances.

But last week, two former national team players, Chinedu Ogbuke Obasi and Taye Taiwo alleged that their inability to make the final list to the football fiesta in that South American country was due to the fact that they refused to give bribe to the coaches.

Late Stephen Keshi was the gaffer that led Nigeria to that edition.

Although one of Keshi’s assistant coaches at the time, Daniel Amokachi, has refuted the allegation and challenged both Obasi and Taye to name the personalities that demanded the bribe from them, Yobo who captained the team, Wednesday called for caution because the saga will further polarize the football family.

“As the captain of the team (at that time), I was privy to the goings on, most especially when we started the final camping leading to the tournament in Brazil.

“To the best of my knowledge, I can’t figure out any unethical doings but we need to also respect the personalities of the individuals who raised the allegation.

“I worked under several indigenous coaches, interestingly, Keshi and Amodu Shaibu of blessed memories were exceptional.

“All through my 13 years sojourn with the national team, no coach made such demand from me but would not want to join in the condemnation of the players who have come out to speak for themselves today.

“I have lots of respect for both players at the centre of this issue but we need to move on as the tournament in question is history,” explained the former Everton of England defender during a live Instagram session on the Nigeria Football Federation page on Wednesday.

In the session monitored by THISDAY, Yobo thanked several persons for his illustrious journey with the team which earned him 101 caps for the Nigerian senior football team. It is the highest caps by any player with the Super Eagles.

“I remained eternally grateful to Dr. Patrick Ekeji, the then Director of Sports Development at the Sports Ministry who insisted of the coaching crew never to drop me from the team to FIFA Under-20 World Cup which Nigeria hosted.

“Myself and my brother, Albert were good for the Flying Eagles squad but pressure and other interests set in. I knew both of us were good to make the team but my elder brother was sacrificed while I made it. From there on till my first cap with the national team in 2001, it was smooth sailing.

“I am happy to have played all through the matches in the national team with jersey number 2 and it was a wonderful experience to pair with Taribo West whom I see as inspiration.

“I would have wished he spent two more years with the team to gain more experience from the strong man of defence,” Yobo recalled.

The former captain picked the 2-0 win against Liberia in the Korea/Japan World Cup qualifying match played in Port Harcourt as one of his memorable matches.

“It was my debut in front of my home fans and family in Port Harcourt and I was nervous but it was a good match and wonderful result considering the fact that we were able to catch up with Lone Star of Liberia.

“George Weah tried to intimidate me as one the youngest in the team but his psychological war did not work for him,” concludes Yobo.