BY KUNLE SOLAJA
On the 20th anniversary of the last match played by Stephen Keshi when Nigeria beat Greece 2-0 on 30 June 1994, another Nigerian skipper, Joseph Yobo also formally ended his international career Iin 2014.
The stage was also at the World Cup and the opposition remarkably was European team, France. The simile did not end there. Both matches ended 2-0 with last getting in after the 90th minute.
Daniel Amokachi who was Nigeria’s assistant coach when the Super Eagles faced France at Brazil 2014 scored Nigeria’s goal against Greece.
He watched from the bench as Yobo put in the second goal for France almost the same minute Amokachi scored the second goal for Nigeria 20 years earlier.
So, on the day Yobo became the first Nigerian to have 100 caps, the celebration was cut short, not just by Nigeria’s elimination, but by the fact that it was his own goal that sealed the victory for France that was already leading 1-0.
Under pressure from French substitute forward, Antoine Griezmann, Yobo diverted the ball past Vincent Enyeama in goal.
It was the 41st own goal in World Cup history after that of Mexico’s Manuel Rosas in a 3-0 loss to Chile in 1930.
Yobo’s unfortunate goal was also the fourth at Brazil 2014 and turned to be the skipper’s last kick for Nigeria in an international match. It also meant that France is the only team in whose favour two own goals had been scored in the same tournament.
Earlier, France had benefitted from Noel Valladares’ own goal in a 3-0 win over Honduras at the group stage of Brazil 2014. It was also the first World Cup goal to be awarded using the goal-line technology.
Yobo had just played his 10th World Cup match for Nigeria, surpassing the nine appearances by Austin Jay Jay Okocha in three editions of 1994, 1998 and 2002.
Only three other Nigerian players had featured in three editions of the World Cup. They are Okocha, Nwankwo Kanu and Vincent Enyeama
“After playing in three World Cup competitions, what else remains for me?” Yobo asked after the loss to France in Brasilia.
“I have to leave when the ovation is loudest. I have attained 100 matches for Nigeria”, he said, pointing out that he graduated to the team at age 20 and therefore needed to leave the stage for the younger ones.
He thanked his colleagues in the national team for the cooperation that they gave him while he was in charge.