By Prof. Chuka
Onwumechili

As Joseph Yobo
approaches the all-important 100 appearances for Nigeria, it is important that
we get it right and research the information with care and attention that it
deserves. In the past, we have been concerned by inability of our Nigerian Football
Federation (NFF) to provide accurate records concerning Nigerian football.
Thus, the NFF must work with diligence to ensure that we all get it right on
matters related to Yobo’s number of appearances for Nigeria. After all, it is
an impending historical moment and a time to duly celebrate.
Presently, there
is uncertainty on whether Joseph Yobo has appeared 93 or 94 times for Nigeria.
Though in a recent article by Kickoff.com, I read that Yobo has played 95
games. As we note with the above, there are already three different totals for
Yobo! Which one is the correct number of appearances for Mr. Yobo? That is the
most important question and my advice is that the NFF take the time to
investigate in order to avoid future embarrassment. This is a matter of
accuracy and a matter of history and legacy. 
Let’s not fumble, let’s not confuse, and let’s not prevaricate.
First, let me
state that the number produced by Kickoff.com is quite surprising as it seems
to be completely off. I would like to see the source that leads to this total
of 95 games. In any case, let us review the issue of whether the correct number
is 93 or 94 games. At least those appear more reasonable. My contention is that
Yobo has played in 93 games and he is without question the Nigerian with the most
appearances for the national team.  But why
93 and not 94 appearances? Below I answer that question.
On April 6 of
2011, Kunle Solaja published on Supersport.com an article titled Yobo’s Caps: Putting the Records Straight.
Kunle put up a list of all Yobo’s games for Nigeria. It was a comprehensive
list from Yobo’s first international for the Super Eagles on March 24, 2001
against Zambia in a Nations Cup qualifier in Chingola, Zambia. This was the
team list on that date:
 Peterside
Idah

Joseph Yobo, Emeka Ifejiagwa,
Isaac Okoronkwo, Garba Lawal – Tijani Babangida (cpt), Pascal Ojigwe, Bosun Ayeni, Bina Ajuwa (63rd  Thompson
Ode
) —  Yakubu Aiyegbeni,  Benedict Akwuegbu (82nd Uche Okereke).
I keep an
elaborate list of all games played by each player that ever played for Nigeria
from the national team’s first game against Sierra Leone in 1949 to date (see
Yobo’s list of games in excel). Thus, I could easily compare Mr. Solaja’s list
with Yobo’s list of appearances in my database. 
I did just that and there was one game that Solaja listed for Yobo that
caught my eye. That was an African Nations Cup qualifier against Lesotho in
Warri on September 8 of 2007. Here was Nigeria’s line up for that game in
Warri:
Augustine Ejide (12) – Apam Onyekachi (46th
Richard Eromoigbe (16)), Rabiu Afolabi (15), Danny Shittu (6), Taiye Taiwo (3)
(72nd Onyekachi Okonkwo (10)) – John Utaka (7), Seyi Olofinjana
(14), Mikel Obi (18), Osaze Odemwingie (11) – Nwankwo Kanu (cpt – 4), Ayo
Makinwa (17) (63rd Ikechukwu Uche (9)).
Yobo was not on
that game list! While Solaja may have made an honest mistake, the NFF owes
Nigerians an assurance that no mistakes are made going forward. Unfortunately,
Yobo continues to get credit for the Lesotho game, which he did not play bringing
his total number of appearances to 94 instead of the more accurate 93
appearances. If this continues we will be celebrating Yobo’s 100th
appearance when in actuality he would have appeared in 99 games!
The fact was
Yobo never set foot on the Warri field against Lesotho. While he had been a
consistent player for Nigeria most of his career, Yobo missed several games
under the tenure of Coach Berti Vogts who managed the Nigerian national team in
that game against Lesotho. As a matter of fact, after appearing for Nigeria
against Uganda in June of 2007, Yobo proceeded to miss the next two games
against Niger Republic and Macedonia before the Lesotho game. At the time, Yobo
was reported as having a groin injury and was subsequently unavailable for the
Lesotho game on the account of the same injury. He also missed the next four
games after Lesotho (Mexico, Australia, Switzerland, and Sudan) before
returning for the Nations Cup tournament in 2008 against Ivory Coast in
Sekondi, Ghana.
To be clear,
Vogts invited Joseph Yobo late in August to join the team and prepare for the
Lesotho game. But Yobo never appeared against Lesotho! Importantly, the Lesotho
game was live on NTA and the NFF could easily verify whether he played or did
not play in that game. This should be the way forward instead of wandering in
the dark with information that may not be accurate.
-30-

5 COMMENTS

  1. Chinaman…ur vast knowlege of the game, in-depth analysis & constructive criticisms, esp on the Nigerian scene marvelous and worthy of emulation. I wonder why those in the glass house don't take pple like u and Ade Ojekere seriously cos y'all always raise up sailent but important issues.
    Big ups to u man !!!…4rm Ghanaman !

  2. Well done, China. I doff my hat for you. When you talk about age cheats they feel you talk too much. Now let us see if Chris Green will not see reason and behave well. – Mac Diri

  3. China, I was wondering if it was your own write-up too. However, where is the excel sheet showing the data of Yobo's career? Good job to fish out this article. Keep it up, bros. – Mac Inoma Diri

  4. I saw this article this morning on twitter via @ikwerreman and while it was published some time around May, Yobo's hasn't featured under Keshi since the AFCON. So I'm at a loss how talk of Yobo having 99 caps arose?
    Please Could the excel sheet showing Yobo's games be made available? Because Lampard was recently feted (publicly)by the English FA on the occassion of his attainment of 100 caps for the National Team, whilst Steven Gerrard is on the verge of equalling Late Robert Moore's record of 108 caps when he turns out tonight against Germany and a record of his landmark moments dating from his 1st cap to his century appearance have been made public. I think Yobo's deserving of a similar recognition.
    Thank you.
    Andre 'Da Blaize' Ugo

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