Afcon 2019: The Big Interview with Joseph Yobo on the Super Eagles progress

Comments()
Getty Images
Goal caught up with the former Everton star, to talk about a wide variety of factors regarding the Super Eagles performances in Egypt

Former Nigeria international Joseph Yobo has picked Ahmed Musa as the Super Eagles’ biggest threat at the 2019 Africa Cup of Nations (Afcon).

Musa has played in all of Nigeria's games in the continental showpiece with just an assist to his credit so far.

He came on as a substitute in the opening match against Burundi and then started four games, but the concern is that he is yet to open his goal account in Egypt.

Article continues below

After recalling his experience against Musa in the national team set-up, Yobo in an exclusive interview with Goal, courtesy of SuperSport, highlighted the crucial role the 24-year-old is playing upfront even though he is not getting the goals yet.

"Nigeria is always blessed with talent. When we talk about going forward, I see that as our strength because we always have players that can take on opponents one-on-one with individual brilliance and getting a goal out of nothing," Yobo said.

"That has always been our strength. Musa is the most experienced player in the team now because he's the captain when Mikel is not playing. He's got everything, his speed is terrifying as a defender if you ask who I don't like playing against, I will tell you Musa all day.

"I don't want it because I tried it a few times in training and I know he's got it. He is a match-winner, we saw that at the World Cup when he scored a brace and it is not the first time it's happening.

"Musa has been our biggest threat, every time Musa had the ball, the defenders were on their back foot, they were under a lot of pressure. Sometimes decision making and understanding didn't really click [against South Africa], Musa was outstanding because you always need someone that will take the ball to the opponent, somebody that will make opponents defend close to their post and that's what he's got.

"If you defend high against Musa, he will beat you with his speed all day. He is an intelligent player, he has improved very well. He's our biggest threat because I know as a defender."

Yobo PS

During the quarter-final fixture against South Africa, Villarreal’s Samuel Chukwueze shone with his individual display and a goal that earned him the Man of the Match award in Cairo.

Yobo heaped praise on the 20-year-old as one of the shining stars that would light up the national team in years to come.

"Chukwueze did well, got his goal which is refreshing for a young player but it takes time for players to adapt to the national team,” he continued.

"He is one for the future, he scored his first goal for Nigeria at Afcon that will give him confidence. He's very talented. Potentially, his future is very bright. He did very well against South Africa and the goal will take him a long way.

The former Everton and Fenerbahce defender also reserved praise for Arsenal star Alex Iwobi for his contributions from the middle of the park.

"We have a lot going forward, Alex Iwobi is adapting to the no. 10 position. We saw the goal he scored against Cameroon, in that position, you need someone that has legs,” he added.

“Sometimes, you needed to defend against the no. 6, so he's doing a lot of dirty jobs as much as going forward which is good to see.

"This team has quality and you can't really pick out one player. Ighalo has scored three goals, in the last game he didn't score but we saw Chukwueze and Ekong scoring. It is good to have a couple of players that score goals in a team, sometimes if you rely on one person, you can get done.”

Yobo PS

Yobo further assessed the team's overall performance in Egypt as they aim for a fourth Afcon title after missing the two last editions.

"So far, the Nigeria team started slowly in the group stage, when you come to camp, you don't have enough time to settle down with some players injured, some needed time to come to full fitness, so things gradually take time," he continued.

"What is good for Nigeria is that we qualified out of the group, in the Round of 16, we saw an improved team when we played against defending champions Cameroon. Losing 2-1, we came back and showed character by fighting hard. In football most times, you have to earn the right to win. It is either you go up or you come down.

"Against South Africa, we started very well and it was a very good game. We were proactive, took the game to the South Africans and got the early goal but in the second half, we saw the Nigeria team being cautious which is normal.

"In football, sometimes you want to defend what you have to but I thought it happened too early and at that moment, when you come back you need your getaway boy - Ahmed Musa. Tactically, they did everything right against South Africa and they won the game in the last minute.

"At this stage, you're playing against a team you're not bigger than, we need to grind out results and play as a team. The team spirit and character will drive Nigeria through but don't forget, we're in Egypt to make our mark and so far, we've been doing it.

Close