DEBATE: Should the veteran remain in the side to receive his 100th cap for the national side, or must Kenneth Omeruo be reunited with his regular defensive partner?
By Shina Oludare & Sammy Ahmadu
Joseph Yobo and Kenneth Omeruo managed to keep a clean sheet against Bosnia-Herzegovina, but was this due to the fine form of the defenders or the excellent work of Vincent Enyeama and the deficiencies of the officials?
Over the last 18 months Omeruo has cultivated a fine partnership (a Cup of Nations-winning understanding) with Godfrey Oboabona. The Caykur Rizespor man missed the Bosnia match through injury, having been replaced part way through the Super Eagles’ opener against Iran.
With the centre-back now reported fit, however, should Keshi return Oboabona to the starting line-up or stick with Yobo alongside Omeruo in defence?
|If it's not broken, don't fix it...
By Shina Oludare
Stephen Keshi must not think of pushing captain Joseph Yobo back to the bench against this dreadful Argentina side.
With 151 minutes to his credit already this tournament, the awaiting centurion has proven that experience cannot be pushed aside, especially when it comes to the biggest football showpiece in the world.
Coach Stephen Keshi was fingered for including the 33-year man in his 23-man squad but Yobo has replied critics with solid displays as his defence line is yet to let in a single goal in two games (a feat no other team has achieved at this stage of the tournament) despite questions over his sharpness, mental alertness and physical flexibility.
Alejandro Sabella will no doubt be unleashing the likes of Lionel Messi, Angel Di Maria, Ezequiel Lavezzi and Sergio Aguero on the Eagles, but the right man to checkmate them is Yobo, who boasts the kind of experience that Godfrey Oboabona cannot match.
Aside his defensive roles, Yobo has proved himself to be calm and stable in possession, knowing when to take his time and when to swiftly play the ball out of defence to one of the side’s speedy widemen.
There is also the question of motivation. Yobo’s next match will be his 100th in Nigerian colours. What grander occasion than a titanic battle with Messi with a spot in the Last 16 on the line?
With his impressive showing so far, the Nigerian colossus is understandably already one of the top defensive performers in the tournament.https://editor.goal.com/nigerian/manage/article/create Bearing this in mind, it would be wrong for the Big Boss to tamper with the blossoming partnership between him and Kenneth Omeruo.
|Double O Duo must be Restored
By Sammy Ahmadu
The question of who starts in defence alongside Kenneth Omeruo against Argentina on Wednesday needs no debate or discussion at all. Stephen Keshi’s hands were tied against Safet Susic’s Bosnia, when an injury to Godfrey Oboabona pushed Yobo into the starting line-up.
Yobo’s inclusion ought to remain, however, a Plan B.
As that was reported by Goal, Oboabona is back in training and should be fit to start tonight. Those arguing for Yobo to remain in the team might be forgetting the fact that Nigeria’s defensive display against Bosnia was not actually as good as some would make out.
Edin Dzeko should, after all, have had a goal, but it was wrongly called for offside. Similarly, the Manchester City striker ought to have scored late on but, with the defence lost, it was Vincent Enyeama who stepped in to save the Super Eagles.
Enyeama and the referee’s incapability masked a defensive display that wasn’t actually all that resilient.
Without mincing words, the return of Oboabona is not just an option, but the only answer if our Super Eagles hope to cope against the star-studded Argentine squad.
Though Yobo, 33, could be fancied with his experience, considering his near-100 caps and improved show against World Cup debutantes, observers will have noted that it was Kenneth Omeruo who did most of the work. The Eagles invited pressure and often it was Omeruo, and not Yobo, who has on hand to clear the danger.
Doubts over Yobo’s inconsistency, physique, mental readiness and flexibility still remain a huge concern for the technical crew; hence the desire to reinstate the once-injured Oboabona.
The former-Sunshine Stars skipper is still only 23, but holds the advantages of youth and mobility over the Fenerbahçe defender. Oboabona has been one of the side’s ever-presents over the last 18 months and has missed only two games (the friendlies against Scotland and Burkina Faso) since the beginning of the 2013 Cup of Nations.
Putting this into context, this is more starts than any other player in the squad, including Vincent Enyeama and John Obi Mikel.
His 100% fitness level may be doubted, but Oboabona would assuredly provide the strength, alertness, braveness and partnership with Omeruo in the heart of the defence.
If the Keshi takes the risk of not returning Oboabona to the line-up, then the Super Eagles risk disaster. This would not be a measured decision but a gamble and one that holds few advantages.
There can be no argument, Keshi’s quest to break the 16-year knock out stage jinx and respond to his critics, will inspire the choice of the Akure-born ace against the two-time World Cup winners.