Nigeria could be about to experience one of her most exciting times in football history as the right mix of coaching and playing personnel could spur the national team to unprecedented heights, says Hope Akpan
Former Everton and Blackburn Rovers midfielder, Akpan, has hailed the addition of Joseph Yobo to the Super Eagles’ coaching crew, saying the iconic defender could be the inspiration the team needs to conquer new grounds.
Akpan, 28, came through the ranks at Everton, where he was for a while a teammate and friend of Yobo.
Born in Liverpool to Nigerian parents, the Bradford City midfielder pledged his allegiance to represent the Nigerian national team in 2013. He was subsequently handed his first call-up in October 2014 by coach Stephen Keshi.
Despite playing his last game for the Super Eagles in 2015, Akpan has stayed in touch with development in his fatherland, and he was particularly happy when he learnt that Yobo had been appointed as Gernot Rohr’s assistant.
“I have known Joseph Yobo forever ten years, I know how much of a model professional footballer he was during his time at Everton,” Akpan said in an Instagram conversation with Team Nigeria UK.
“I know the sort of character he has and the standards he set, so for him to now be assistant manager of the Super Eagles it is a good fit, I am sure he’s one of the most capped players for Nigeria.
“He had a stellar career, went to at least two World Cups, captained Nigeria for so many years. He has got the experience, and then he is young enough to connect with the young players.
“It’s exciting times for Nigerian football, in the last three or four years in the buildup to the World Cup.
“There is a young team, young players who have got talent. With the right coaching, with the right mindset, they can go far.”
Akpan has four caps for the Super Eagles. Still, any hope of adding to that haul looks slim as Rohr’s side currently boasts a clutch of talented midfielders, including Leicester City’s Wilfred Ndidi, Getafe’s Oghenekaro Etebo, and Rangers Joe Aribo among others.