Tuesday, March 4, 2014
Norwich City defender Joseph Yobo has pulled out of Nigeria’s friendly against Mexico in the USA.
The centre-back, who joined City on loan from Fenerbahçe in January, was due to make his first appearance for his country since captaining them to African Cup of Nations glory in South Africa in February 2013.
The former Everton skipper’s good start to his loan spell at Carrow Road had seen the 33-year-old called back into head coach Stephen Keshi’s squad.
The Super Eagles were due to take on Mexico at the Georgia Dome Stadium in Atlanta tomorrow night, with more than 60,000 tickets sold for the game, which would have kicked-off at 8.30pm local time (1.30am UK time).
However Yobo, who played 90 minutes of City’s 4-1 loss at Aston Villa on Sunday afternoon, has pulled out of the match with an “unspecified strain”.
February 8 – Norwich City 0 Manchester City 0
February 11 – West Ham 2 Norwich City 0
February 23 – Norwich City 1 Tottenham Hotspur 0
March 2 – Aston Villa 4 Norwich City 1
(Yobo has started and finished all four of his matches for the Canaries so far)
The 8,000-mile round trip was never going to be ideal for City or Yobo, who has been capped 95 times by his country, with a crunch Premier League game at home against Stoke City on Saturday afternoon hurtling into view.
Yobo has been replaced by uncapped 25-year-old defender Leon Balogun and misses out on a chance to impress ahead of this summer’s World Cup in Brazil, where the African nation are in Group F alongside Argentina, Bosnia & Herzegovina and Iran.
“The game against Mexico is crucial for players like Balogun and others who are keen to make a good impression ahead of the World Cup,” Nigeria media officer Ben Alaiya told BBC Sport.
Yobo joins fellow Canaries defender Martin Olsson in pulling out of international duty this week.
Olsson pulled out of Sweden’s midweek friendly against Turkey with a shoulder injury that will require surgery in the summer.
Follow David Freezer on Twitter @davefreezer