Friday 19 July 2019

No Obafemi debut but he is committed to Ireland senior cause

Martin O’Neill checks on injured striker Sean Maguire in last night’s game
Martin O’Neill checks on injured striker Sean Maguire in last night’s game
Michael Obafemi, pictured before last night’s game

For an association who are sponsored by a mobile phone company, communication seems to be an issue for the FAI and the senior international team.

The good news for fans of the Republic of Ireland is that Michael Obafemi, who has been listed as one of the Undecided when it came to his international future, is committed to the Irish cause, in spite of possible interest from Nigeria or England.

The player himself has yet to comment, bar a post on social media yesterday of him in his Ireland shirt, the slogan 'all in' with an emoji of a tricolour and a shamrock.

That came shortly after a statement from the player's agent which affirmed Obafemi's commitment to Ireland and stressed that he had no interest in playing for any other nation.

"Michael is 100 per cent committed to Ireland and is looking forward to an exciting future with the national team," said the agency which represents the 19-year-old.

The Lansdowne Road crowd last night, sadly, did not get to see Obafemi in the flesh so they could see what exactly all the fuss was about, Martin O'Neill giving a cap off the bench to Scott Hogan but not Obafemi.

But the Obafemi issue raises real questions over the level of communication and interaction within the Ireland squad in terms of dual-eligibility players, at a time when Ireland are still suffering from the long-lasting effects of the Declan Rice affair.


Twice in the past week, Martin O'Neill was asked about just how committed Obafemi was to Ireland, with persistent reports that he was unsure about playing for Ireland in Monday's game in Denmark as a competitive appearance would permanently tie him to Ireland.

On both occasions O'Neill expressed doubts about the player's immediate plans for international football. "Total commitment, he didn't say that to me," O'Neill said on Wednesday. " In terms of decisions...I think that's a bit of a distance off. He's got things to think about. I wouldn't be rushing him."

And within 24 hours, Obafemi's agents had come out stating there was no doubt. "

"Due to current speculation surrounding Michael Obafemi and as Michael's representatives, we would like to go on record to say that we are not in talks with either Nigeria or England, nor is it something we have ever pursued," the statement read.

"Since Mark O'Toole spotted Michael early on, he, along with the other staff at Ireland, have given Michael a great opportunity, which he has enjoyed immensely.

"Michael was born in Ireland, so this is the country he naturally wants to play for Martin O'Neill has shown great faith in Michael and he wants to repay that faith by helping the team achieve success."

It's good to talk, but perhaps more talking is needed to let supporters know what exactly is going on behind the closed doors of this Ireland camp.

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