Oba Martins has a more than unsteady relationship with his national team Nigeria.
Oba Martins – played just 21 times for his country, Nigeria
In yesterday’s papers there were reports that new Nigeria coach Shuaibu Amodu, is somewhat wary of Martins, and his regular withdrawals from Nigeria’s squad with injury.
The Newcastle United striker, who has scored 20 goals for the Tyneside club over the last 2 seasons, some of them absolute corkers,Â has been warned about the future of his international career by his national coach.
Amodu has hinted that he has doubts about the playerâ€™s recent withdrawals from his squad through injury:
â€œWe have to be careful about the issue of Martins because he is a good player even though no one is indispensable,â€
â€œHowever, we cannot force anyone to play for Nigeria, rather we prefer to work with willing players. He called me to say he was injured.”
“I insisted he should still join us for our friendly in Austria in May but he did not comply.”
“I want to take him at his word but at the same time, Iâ€™m watching him.â€
Amodu has also suggested that preserving team spirit would be as important a factor as ability, in his future team selections, as he continued:
â€œWe inherited a team that was in tatters, a team that needed to regain their confidence,â€
â€œWe have achieved some results but we are not there yet. We are making progress.”
“I have been satisfied with the conduct of the players as well as their commitment.â€
It turns out that Martins has missed Nigeria’s last four World Cup qualifying matches, due to an ankle injury, and Amodu seems suspicious about the extent of the problem.
However, from Newcastle’s perspective, having players regularly traveling to different places in the world to play international matches does nothing to improve the physical well-being of our players, and of course they can also be injured in the process.
If they are injured in the least, lots of traveling does nothing to improve the situation, and we’d rather he not even travel to the venues, given that he will not be playing, in any case.
Nigeria are currently at the top of their World Cup qualifying group with wins over South Africa, Sierra Leone and Equatorial Guinea â€“ all achieved without Martins.
Martins has played just 21 times for his country, scoring 13 goals.
He has already threatened to quit international football, when in 2006 an administrative error (African countries seem fraught with these) on the Nigerian FAâ€™s website listed his age as 28, not 21, and endangered Martins’ proposed move to Newcastle United.
The new European Club Association – ECA – on which Newcastle United is one of 5 English clubs representing English interests (along with the top 4 of Arsenal, Man United, Chelsea and Liverpool) have already been successful in getting proposals approved that will help the situation with players traveling too much for friendly internationals.
The ECA has won some important concessions for European clubs in the continuing conflict with the demands made by international football:
- International matches will eventually be switched from Wednesday to Tuesday, which will allow players to return to their club teams earlier, and be ready for the following weekend game.
- International players based in Europe will not have to take part in more than one friendly game for their country, when those games are played on other continents.
- The ECA has forced UEFA to pay clubs whose players appear in a European Championship or World Cup.
The first two will, at least, have an impact on Oba Martins and indeed on our other three Africans at Newcastle, Mark Viduka and new boy – Argentine International, Jonas Gutierrez.
We probably should be more concerned about Martins missing games for Nigeria, but because Newcastle pays his wages we’re not too bothered by all of this, to be truthful.