Joseph Yobo: Befitting testimonial for Super Eagles most caped player

Victor Ikpeba

At Adokiye Amiesimaka stadium on Friday, May 27, Yobo was being honoured by some of his friends and former colleagues.

Watching Joseph Yobo play at his testimonial and one thing kept creeping into my mind; “he has three years of football left in him”.

 

I wasn’t alone with this thought as I heard a journalist asked David Moyes-the man who signed him for Everton from Marseille. “I think so too, but I think his decision (to retire) should be respected,” Moyes said when he was quizzed on why Yobo chose to retire now.

Yobo remains that straight-forward defender who possess lots of strength and a little bit of pace. The MLS or at least a club in China would have been a good choice if he thought the strains of European football were too strenuous for him.

But at the Adokiye Amiesimaka stadium on Friday, May 27, Yobo was  being honoured a his testimonial by some of his friends and former colleagues.

African football stars Samuel Eto’o, Sulley Muntari, Stephen Appiah, Lomana Lualua and Laryea Kingston were joined by Nigerian greats Kanu Nwankwo, Austin Okocha, Mutiu Adepoju, Austin Eguavoen and Ben Iroha to celebrate the 101-cap Yobo.

Yobo made his senior international debut against Zambia in a 2002 FIFA World Cup qualifier in March 2001. Now after representing the Super Eagles at three FIFA World Cup tournaments, six Africa Cup of Nations, Yobo said goodbye to international football in Port Harcourt.

It was a scripted end to his playing days at the same city he started his football journey.

He played there until he moved to Standard Liège in 1998 from where he move to Marseille. Moyes spotted him to Everton where he played the best football of his career, evening captaining the club on some couple of occasions.

“I brought him from Marseille because I saw the huge talent in him and trusted him”, Moyes told Pulse TV after the testimonial. It would probably be the last time the Scot will coach Yobo in a football game.

He was the coach of Team World led by Eto’o and assisted by former Nigeria youth coach Fanny Amun.

 

With Yobo playing for Team Nigeria-composed of current footballers Vincent Enyeama, Ahmed Musa, Emmanuel Emenike, Godfrey Oboabona, Efe Ambrose, Joel Obi and coached by Amodu Shaibu and Samson Siasia– Moyes’ led Team World conceded twice in quick succession.

With Okocha in the centre of things for Team Nigeria, Emenike scored two quick goals all thanks to the magic of former Super Eagles NO. 10.

Jay Jay was so good that Team World felt cheated with Eto’o hilariously begging for the former Bolten midfielder to be substituted.

 

Eto’o himself was a on the end of a chase-down by former Super Eagles goalkeeper, Enyeama after he dribbled the goalkeeper to score.

The slightly embarrassed Enyeama chased Eto’o round his post before hugging it out.

The fans at the stadium were having fun.  They were watching some of Africa’s finest footballers playing together.

There were not the only people starstrucked by the stellar collection of football stars on parade.

Before kick-off, the face of Governor of Rivers State Nyesom Wike lit up with delight as he shook hands with each of the stars.

As guest of honour, Wike was made to play a penalty kick against Enyeama. The governor’s striker beat Enyeama before rebounding off the post, the crowd roared with applause.

 

It was however chaos at half as fans stormed the stadium, looking to have a touch of their football hearos, but in an embarrassing manner.

The first half ended 4-3 with Yobo scoring just before the break to keep the scores close. The man of the day switched sides at resumption as Kanu, Nigerian comedian Ayo Makun (AY) and former goalkeeper Ike Shorunmu all came on.

Yobo missed a chance to level for his new side as his penalty was saved by Dele Ayenugba. Remember he missed a penalty in Super Eagles shoot-out victory over Tunisia in the quarter-finals of the 2006 African Cup of Nations.

Nigeria were knocked out that year in the semi-final by Côte d’Ivoire. Yobo later won the AFCON in 2013 as captain of the Super Eagles. His only trophy with the Super Eagles.

The penalty miss like that of the 2006 AFCON was inconsequential. He scored another but could not prevent defeat to Team World.

5-3 the match ended.

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