Nigeria captain Joseph Yobo has announced his retirement from the national side after the Super Eagles fell 2-0 to France in the second round of the World Cup.
The 33-year-old became the first Nigerian to play 100 international matches but capped it with an own goal in added time against Les Bleus.
“It was a bitter-sweet moment for me but I think it is time to focus on my family,” Yobo told reporters. “It has been a long road.”
Yobo made his debut with the Super Eagles in 2001 but became a mainstay of the team during the 2002 World Cup in Korea/Japan.
He played at three World Cups and won the Africa Cup of Nations as captain last year.
“We’ve won the Africa Nations Cup and we came here and were not disgraced,” said the Fenerbahce man.
“I never thought that I’d be here because I missed the last six games of the season through injury. They gave me an opportunity but it is unfortunate what happened.
“I gave my all,” he said.
However, Yobo thinks that he’s leaving the national team in capable hands with the duo of defenders Kenneth Omeruo and Godfrey Oboabona able to continue in his place.
“They would grow,” he said. “Omeruo has done very well. Oboabona was injured but he got his chance at the Nations Cup. They’re going to get better, the experience is going to come and one of them has to take the responsibility and be a leader.”
The defender said he would like to concentrate on club football afterwards.
Meanwhile, the continued stay of Stephen Keshi as the Super Eagles coach is in doubt, going by the statement he made yesterday at the post match briefing where Yobo announced his resignation.
“Nobody has contacted me to renegotiate my stay, or offered me a new contract. Therefore, am through with the job,” Keshi told Nigerian journalists in the Mixed Zone at the match venue, saying his contract with the Nigeria Football Federation (NFF) was over. “I’m going to meet my wife and children for now before thinking of the next step.
I’ve missed them for long,” The gaffer added amidst speculations that he had signed a two-year contract with the South Africa Football Association (SAFA) to tinker the Bafana Bafana.
Team Media Officer, Ben Alaiya, also confirmed to National Mirror that Keshi has resigned. But the NFF’s Vice President, Chief Mike Umeh, said that the federation had not asked the embattled coach to go.
“If he wants to go, we can’t stop him. But my personal opinion is based on his performance since taking up the job, and he has done well,” Umeh said, adding, “Whatever mistakes he has seen all this time, he should stay and correct them.”