Joseph Yobo backs Nigeria squad for AFCON return

Joseph Yobo backs Nigeria squad for AFCON return
Balogun Leon Aderemi of Nigeria challenged by Lebo Mothiba of South Africa during the 2019 African Cup of Nations Qualifier match between South Africa and Nigeria at FNB Stadium, Johannesburg on 17 November 2018 ©Samuel Shivambu/BackpagePix

by Graeme Jackson

Monday Jun 03, 2019. 10:15

Former Nigeria national team captain Joseph Yobo has backed the current Super Eagles team to enjoy a successful return to the Africa Cup of Nations finals.

Yobo skippered Nigeria to glory at the 2013 AFCON in South Africa, but they have missed successive tournaments in 2015 and 2017.

Later this month, the Super Eagles will return to the Nations Cup when they take on Guinea, Madagascar and Burundi in Group B at the finals in Egypt.

Critics of coach Gernot Rohr’s team claim they are too inexperienced, with only John Obi Mikel, Ahmed Musa and Kenneth Omeruo as surviving members of the class of 2013, but Yobo has dismissed this appraisal.

"I've played with a squad full of talented and established players, yet we finished third on three occasions [2002, 2004 and 2006]," Yobo told BBC Sport.

"Remember that in 2013 when we had a largely inexperienced squad we ended up as champions and it's kudos to our late coach Stephen Keshi for such a brave move.

"Ours is a massive country and football easily generates differing opinions among the populace, because they all love the game.

"Right now I think the coach has selected a squad he believes can do the business and as fans we can only support them.

"They have fearless young players who are all doing well in top leagues around the world and they can look up to some old faces for motivation.

"I've experienced it personally and I can say that anything is possible in Egypt."

Yobo, the first man to reach 100 appearances for Nigeria, is excited to see his team in action at the Nations Cup after a six-year absence.

"It was disappointing to watch the last two editions without Nigeria and we now have a chance to make a strong statement," he added.

"The excitement is real and I have a positive expectation about these boys because they represent a nation of almost 200 million people.

"The young players need to enjoy their first Nations Cup without pressure and take in the whole experience."

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