Wednesday, 27 March 2013

Naija Sports: Obafemi loses Super Eagles shirt, Coach Keshi to replace him with Anichebe

Obafemi Martins. Who knows how long it will be before he is back in the green of the national side?

Martins who recently signed for the Seattle Sounders in the Major League Soccer has however defended himself against allegation of poor performance against Kenya, saying he gave his best in the World Cup qualifier.

“As far as I’m concerned, I did well. You have to admit its football and in football anything can happen. As a player you can only do your best.
“As Nations Cup champions, every team would want to beat us and they will also prepare for any match they will play against us. We will work harder as a team and will go to the World Cup,” he said.

“I have been playing for 12 to 13 years now. Sometimes, I’m happy and sometimes, I’m not. But I will make sure that I keep working towards greatness,” he added.
Martins has scored 17 goals in 32 appearances for Nigeria. He was a part of the Super Eagles that finished third in the 2006 Africa Cup of Nations. Martins scored two goals in the competition, both coming against Senegal in the first round.

While mixed emotions flanked the former Newcastle man on the final whistle, I am convinced that a conflict of sentiment greeted him as he walked out into the stadium on Saturday, making his first appearance for the national side since his run-out in the friendly against Venezuela back in November of last year.

How must the 28-year-old forward have felt as he emerged to take on Kenya? Excluding the young right-back Solomon Kwambe, he lined up alongside 9 heroes of the recent Cup of Nations, yet Vincent Enyeama and John Obi Mikel aside, none of them had given as much to the national side over the years as Obagoal. Martins put in the hours, put in the air miles, to chalk up 39 caps since 2004, but had missed out on the granddaddy of them all-the Cup of Nations triumph.

Years from now, Naija fans will still be able to recall that glorious Afcon side. They will remember Victor Moses and his electric performances, they will remember Sunday Mba and his pertinent contributions, they will remember the goals of Emmanuel Emenike and Ideye Brown-the team sheet will be as Gospel. Martins, in his absence, was forgotten-a missed episode and a lost opportunity for a striker who has endured his fair share of them with the national side.

 Doubtless there will be opportunities ahead for the manager to experiment, and to examine some of the players who populate the fringes of his squad. If Martins continues to find the net on a regular basis-regardless of where he plays-then he will continue to demand the manager’s attention and will likely be given another chance to impress. He will be 29 by the time the World Cup rolls around, and with an international career edging towards the finish line, it may well be his last chance to produce that iconic moment Nigeria has been waiting for.

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