Looking dapper in a piece of suit, Joseph Yobo sat behind cameras in the Supersport Studios, as he analysed at the 2018 World Cup.
In one of his major takes at that tournament, he said Super Eagles coach, Gernot Rohr should include Ahmed Musa and Kenneth Omeruo in the lineup against Iceland, after the team’s opening loss to Croatia. The Franco-German coach followed Yobo’s words, like it was an instant call, and the Super Eagles won 2-0. A chance, you might say it is, or just some lucky punting by the former Super Eagles centurion, what nobody will deny is the fact that Yobo knows the Super Eagles, as a player, and as a team leader.
While his face has been apparent in recent time, owing to his football analysis on Supersport, his knowledge of the game has been questioned by viewers who are not altogether fascinated by his opinions.
Yobo, obviously does not possess the verbal mastery of another former Super Eagles captain, Sunday Oliseh, who was described as ‘African Guardiola’ during his presentation as the Super Eagles coach, but he understands the Nigerian team, having represented the team for 13 years, racking up a century of appearances in the process. Oliseh, while being astute at his submissions, failed woefully in coaching and leading the team.
Although the recruitment process of the NFF leaves little to savour, the choice of Yobo as an assistant coach in a team he totally understands may not be a bad way to start.
He knows the players very well, and has a personal relationship with some of them. He is a legend of the Super Eagles and led the team to its biggest success in the last decade. Having been through the theatrics, drama and sometimes comedic ways of Nigerian football, he will be an important part of Rohr’s backroom staff, going forward.
Imama Amapakabo, whom Yobo has replaced had also failed woefully in the assignments given to him. While he’s part of Rohr’s team owing to his Nigerian links, Yobo would also be a good assistant in the team, and may be a perfect pedestal for him to build a coaching career.
With his experience from playing the game at a high level, he would need to fix his coaching badges in the next few years, and also help be the ambassador the players can look up to for experience and practical advice.
Many arguments against Yobo is his inexperience in coaching, but if modern football has hurled anything right in our faces, it is the fact that people learn on the job, especially when the sticks for failure is not directly hauled on their heads. Yobo has risen and fallen with the Super Eagles, he has tasted success and knows the pain of failure as an important member of the squad. And this move, other than being just another appointment, is very strategic.
When legendary Green Eagles star, Segun ‘Mathematical’ Odegbami came out to submit his opinion on Yobo being prepared to coach the Super Eagles, he was roundly criticised for his then comedic stance. Apparently, Odegbami, being an insider in the affairs of Nigerian football, perhaps saw more than the average Nigerian football fan. He was perhaps speaking from a position of assurance and smartly coated his insinuation with his experience of the team.
Yobo will learn under Rohr, who has proven to be a decent manager so far, giving the team a very youthful identity and feel. His experience under several Super Eagles managers can’t be thrown under the bus, and may prove to be his biggest pitch.
Much more than anything, it’s an appointment that is suggestive of the Super Eagles’ game plan. A Yobo on the Super Eagles bench as coach in the future; well, time will tell on how interesting that will be.