Osaze Odemwingie has cited betrayal by Super Eagles coach, Stephen Keshi, as the reason for his recent uncontrolled outburst. The West Bromwich Albion striker had in the heels of the release of the provisional team list for AFCON 2013, taken to Twitter to make some disparaging comments against the national team coach, former Eagles player, Victor Ikpeba and the Nigeria Football Federation, NFF.
The out-of-favour Eagles striker also lambasted the chairman of the NFF Technical Committee, Chris Green, over his exclusion from the AFCON squad.
But in a recent interview with select Nigerian journalists, the England-based forward said he made the statements in a fit of anger, after he had made it known to his club coach and colleagues that he was set to travel for the January 2013 Nations Cup in South Africa. While also assuming responsibility for some of the comments credited to him, he was also quick to clear the air on allegations that he called Green ‘names,’ saying he was only bitter about his exclusion.
Odemwingie described Green as a good man and one of the few on the NFF board, alongside its President, Aminu Maigari, whom he knows personally and would not want to offend; though his anger has portrayed him as being at ‘war with everybody’.
“I remember it was Green that settled my case with Siasia then, but I was too angry when he called me over this matter, and was impatient to listen to him, and my comment was not directed to him personally but to those who made the decision. But I think I over reacted then,” Odemwingie said.
On his face-off with Keshi, the versatile forward said: “I called the coach two or three times within that period, maybe two or three days before the list was made public and told him of my commitment to be part of the Nations Cup, and have told my coach I will be going to the Nations Cup.”
According to him, “I told the coach I was ready to report to camp by January 3rd, even before other professionals start reporting to camp, if I was in his programme for the Nations Cup; and even told him to feel free to drop me if I was not in his programme.
“I felt betrayed after that seeming heart-to-heart discussions with the coach few days to the release of the team list and he could not hint me I was not in his plan for the Nations Cup. For me it was not professional and I considered it a betrayal and lost my cool given all the arrangements I had made towards the Nations Cup,” he said.
Odemwingie also revealed that he felt pained and angered by “some comments on why I was dropped ranging from being arrogant to asking for the captain’s band; and I concluded the federation wanted to freeze me out of the national team after ten years of serving the country with commitment and dedication.”
“I don’t mind being asked to give the younger ones a chance, even though I still have five years to offer at the international level, but I only think it would be proper to be honourably pulled out of the national team and not ‘disgraced’ out of the team after years of dedicated service to Nigeria,” he said.
The West Brom star argued that though his international career is over in the light of these controversies, which he noted “were unfortunate and regrettable,” he believes “there is need to correct some wrong impressions out there that I am always fighting with every coach,”
“But what people don’t know is that my issues with all the coaches from Samson Siasia to Lars Lagerback and now Keshi had to do with purely football matters, not administrative or asking for more money for players.
“My case with coach Siasia dates back to the 2008 Olympics, and had to do with insufficient jerseys and all that; with Lagerback it had to do with how I was treated and I voiced it to him personally at the World Cup, and now being treated unfairly.
“Imagine talking with someone two to three times over an issue and few days later you begin to hear a different story from the person, who was in a person to tell you point blank, ‘you are not in my plan for this,” he said.
The former Locomotive Moscow forward concluded by saying “I am human and open to error by the way I may have taken the issue, and regret the whole controversy, and want to put all this behind me now and focus on my club career, while wishing the team the best of luck as a Nigerian.”