Nigeria assistant coach Joseph Yobo has backed Alex Iwobi to be a “game-changer” for his country as the Super Eagles prepare to launch their Africa Cup of Nations campaign.
Iwobi is expected play a key role for his nation as they aim to win the tournament for a fourth time and former Everton defender Yobo saluted the forward’s quality, work-ethic and versatility.
This 2022 edition of the Africa Cup of Nations is being held in Cameroon, with Nigeria set to take on Egypt in their Group A opener later today (Tuesday, 4pm kick-off GMT).
Yobo was part of the last Super Eagles squad the lift the title, in 2013, and outlined influential role Iwobi has for the current national side.
The 25-year-old Everton attacker has won 50 senior caps for Nigeria and scored nine goals.
“Alex is a big, big player for us in the national team,” Yobo told evertonfc.com.
“He trains hard every day – he is our game-changer. When things are hard, he can change things for us.
“He works his socks off and, technically, he is very good.
“He has the skill and the energy to run at players and track back, he can do all that. And he has an eye for goal.
“He is very important for Nigeria and I believe he can be for Everton, too.”
Yobo made a total of 259 appearances for Everton during an eight-year stint with the Blues between 2002 and 2010.
A classy central defender, he was also comfortable operating at right-back and did so regularly in his early days at Everton.
Yobo, then, knows the value of being able to seamlessly adjust to a variety of positions and he highlights Iwobi’s adaptability as a key strength.
“If you need somebody to take on players and work back, Alex is better out wide,” Yobo explained.
“If you need somebody to do a bit of magic, without being predictable, then he can be a good option behind the striker. He does that very well for the national team.
“It depends on the formation and what you are trying to achieve, but he is very versatile.
“Alex is young but has played a lot of football and is experienced. He knows when to drop in and what do in different situations.
“I like him a lot. I am a big fan of Alex’s.”