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…Understanding Odemwingie’s Frustrations

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A few days after I was named Super Eagles Media Officer, I messaged three players: Joseph Yobo, Vincent Enyeama and Osaze Odemwingie.

My intention was to let them know I’d need their cooperation to build a bridge between the media and the squad.

In Osaze’s case, however, I added something extra. And in his joking reply, he promised me I would get my biggest headache from him. When the headache came, it turned out to be anything but a joke.

The first real crisis I had to manage involved none other than Mr Odemwingie himself.

I was sitting in a meeting at SuperSport when I got a message from a friend in Chicago asking if I’d seen what Osaze was tweeting about then coach Samson Siasia.

The moment I saw the fiery tweets, I rang him up and asked him to take them down. He dug his heels in, but after a few minutes of back and forth, he relented. By then, it was too late, the damage had been done.

And I spent the rest of my brief time in the post managing the Osaze/Siasia rift until it was finally settled in the latter’s final days as coach.

Osaze and I have come a long way. It’s been 10 years and counting. In that time, I have come to know the young man as a combustible fireball crackling underneath wooden floorboards.

Osaze Odemwingie does not do half measures. It is at once his greatest virtue, and his biggest frailty.

When he suits up in that green and white shirt, or any other for that matter, he leaves it all out on the pitch. When he calls someone out for not doing their job, he spares nothing. And when he is backed into a corner, he comes out swinging.

This latest, messy episode with Stephen Keshi is Osaze coming out guns blazing from inside of a corner, ten years in the making.

It is the culmination of years of frustration with the Nigeria set-up, and things he has been continually unhappy about. All catalogued in his initial tweets.

Being left out by Shuaibu Amodu for his first few games in charge despite a fine showing at the 2008 Nations Cup, only for him to speak out, get played and win multiple Man of the Match awards.

That was followed by getting into a tiff with Siaisa at the Olympic Games because he dared to complain about a shortage of kit; then left out again by Lars Lagerback at the World Cup after being named Nigerian Player of the Year for his performances.

Odemwingie’s current scrap with Keshi dates back to a qualifying game in Rwanda, when the forward was first to be hauled off in what was a generally bad team performance.

From what he told me, the manner of the substitution left him with a sense of déjà vu. And so he ignored attempts by the manager to make contact. On this occasion, I was involved, again, in brokering peace.

But with fences mended, both coach and NFF were left unconvinced about the player’s commitment to the cause when he failed to turn up for the friendly against Venezuela in Miami.

Osaze himself offered little to me but to say he opted out for ‘personal reasons’. In any case, both Chelsea’s John Mikel Obi and Victor Moses did the same too.

Odemwingie had hopes of making the Nations Cup squad. He was a striker in form, had mended fences with his coach, had spoken to his team captain and was in regular communication with the coach.

Three days before the squad was announced, player and coach had been on the phone discussing schedules.

With the Odemwingies expecting their first baby, Keshi was not sure about the player’s focus and was giving no guarantees.

Osaze was willing to make adjustments to his schedule. That, unfortunately, did not seem to be enough. And there were rumblings of ‘conditions’ attached to his return. Osaze denies it vehemently.

In the end, the decision was taken. He was cut. Ostensibly because there were doubts about his total commitment to the team.

Whether anyone likes it or not, the final decision on who makes a squad is up to the coach. Not the player, not the federation, not the fans, not the media. The coach. But, in making that decision, it is also in the coach’s unwritten job description to inform at the very least the senior members of his squad who have been axed.

It is a hard task to carry out under normal circumstances. It is even harder in situations like this. But that action defines the man manager. It is a sign of mutual respect.

This is where Odemwingie lost it. To find out in the media that he had not been considered for a 32-man squad was the final straw.

“For me, it was very disrespectful,” he told me. “I’m packing my bags and done with the national team. But I needed to tell them my mind.”

As much as I may fault Keshi for not making that call, I find it even harder to agree with Odemwingie’s route to self-immolation.

In his unbridled tirade, Odemwingie has swung at coaches past and present, his captain, the NFF, the media and even a section of the fans. Going off the reservation doesn’t even begin to describe it.

While we both agree that certain things needed to be said, his method, medium and timing has cost him more than just brownie points. He is reduced to looking like a petulant child throwing his toys out the pram because daddy said no.

The tragedy for me is that, just like Osaze’s fractious rift with Siasia, this could have been avoided.

And Osaze, for his full-blooded, decade-long service in the green white green, deserves better than to be remembered this way.

Unfortunately, I doubt this particular saga is anywhere close to running its course. Therein lies the bigger tragedy.

Udoh writes for kickoff-Nigeria.

 

Colin Udoh

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Rivers International Marathon To Celebrate Fubara’s One Year

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Former Nigeria international goalkeeper, Peterside Idah says next month’s Rivers International Marathon will be used to celebrate the one year anniversary of His Excellency,  Siminalayi Fubara as the Executive Governor of Rivers State.           Idah, who is the race’s head of media and communications said the event could not have been better timed and organizers have keyed it into the one year celebration of Governor  Fubara’s tenure.       “We want to use this race to celebrate the one year anniversary of our Governor, Fubara who is the main reason Rivers State has been officially termed as the sports hub of the nation by John Enoh, the Minister of Sports Development,” Ida said. Continuing, Idah revealed that the Rivers International Marathon has received massive backing from Governor Fubara as well as corporate Nigeria.        “Governor Fubara is the biggest supporter of the race and we are determined to organise a race befitting the status of Rivers state as the new destination of sort for sports in Nigeria,” Idah stated, adding two financial institutions have thrown their weight behind the race.    “Globus and Zenith bank are backing us as partners and this shows that corporate Nigeria is appreciating the giant strides we have taken in terms of sports development and the many benefits that come with organizing a road race.

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BAL : Rivers Hoopers Arrive Rwanda, Attend Playoff

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Nigeria’s representatives at the 2024 Basketball Africa League (BAL), Rivers Hoopers on Sunday landed in Kigali, Rwanda ahead of the competition which dunks off on May 24th .
The Tidesports source hinted: “The KingsMen have arrived in Kigali, Rwanda for the Playoffs. Dakar was good, Kigali be great.”
The KingsMen will face AS Douanes of Senegal in one of the four seeding games in the playoffs in Kigali on May 24th.
The two teams played against each other twice in the Sahara Conference that ended last week in Dakar, Senegal with each winning one game apiece.
The winner between Hoopers and AS Douanes (Game 40) will play against the winner between Petro de Luanda (Angola) and US Monastir of Tunisia (Game 39) in the semi-final, while the loser of the tie will square up against the loser of Game 39 in the quarter final.
Meanwhile, Nigeria’s hip-hop star, Adekunle Kosoko aka Adekunle Gold and AG Baby, are among the list of top celebrities who will perform at the 2024 African Basketball League playoffs in Kigali.
The finals usually attract top celebrities from both the sports and music community And this time around, BAL 4 playoffs will feature performances by local and international acts, including the likes of Nigeria’s Adekunle Gold and Rwanda’s very own The Ben, Chris Eazy, Ish Kevin, Kevin Kade, Ariel Wayz, Kivumbi King, Bwiza, Ishami Talent, Inganzi Ngari cultural troupe and Kenny Sol.
The selected artists will perform during the halftime shows of the finals. Globally with special performances to spice up the halftime show atmosphere.

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WAFU U-17: Togo, Nigeria Clash Must-Win For Garba

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Golden Eaglets head coach, Manu Garba, is leaving no margin for errors in ensuring the team beat Togo today in their second Group B match of the WAFU Zone B U-17 Cup of Nations in Ghana.The record five-time world champions made a stuttering start to their campaign with a barren draw against Burkina Faso at the University of Ghana on Thursday, but boosted their title defence with a 1-0 win over Niger Republic on Sunday at same venue, with Raphael Adams’ 31st-minute strike separating both sides.
Nigeria are second in the group with four points, the same as Burkina Faso, who have their nose in front on a superior goal difference. Garba looks to finish at the top of the pile and has declared their last group game against the young Hawks another must-win.
“The Golden Eaglets will have to beat Togo on today. The Togo U-17 team is good, and Nigeria will not underrate them,” Garba saider Alleged N8bn Air Fraud, Food PricOthers
“We have trained the players on goal-scoring drills. Nigeria should have scored three goals against Niger. So, we hope that the players will convert more of their chances against Togo,” he added.
Niger are in the third position with three points from their 3-2 win over Togo, who, though rock bottom, are not pushovers but largely undone by errors.
The tournament, running from May 15 to 29, will see the top two teams from the group facing the best teams from Group A, which includes Ghana, Cote d’Ivoire, and Benin Republic, in the semi-final.
The two countries that qualify for the final will represent the region at next year’s U-17 African Cup of Nations.

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