Iwobi Hopes To Emulate Okocha By Winning AFCON Title In First Attempt

Iwobi Hopes To Emulate Okocha By Winning AFCON Title In First Attempt

Alex Iwobi wants to match his uncle Austin ‘Jay-Jay’ Okocha by winning the Africa Cup of Nations with the Super Eagles at his first attempt.

Okocha was part of the winning Super Eagles team in 1994 at his maiden appearance at the AFCON finals.

The 22-year-old was born in Lagos to Okocha’s sister and arrived in the UK aged four.

The Arsenal winger is expected to play a key role for Nigeria at the 2019 AFCON finals this summer in Egypt which will be his first appearance.

“I’ve seen some of his highlights from 1994 and it would be cool to achieve that as well,” Iwobi told BBC Sport.

“I’m excited, I have always dreamt of participating and representing my country at the Africa Cup of Nations, but it won’t be easy for us in Egypt

“Both dreams are coming true, hopefully I can get to play in Egypt.”

Nigeria, who won a third title in 2013 but have missed the last two tournaments, will start the AFCON finals in June from Group B against Guinea, Madagascar and Burundi.

Iwobi admits that he is still learning about just how passionate Nigerian fans are.

“I thought I understand what playing for Nigeria truly means, but the more I play in Nigeria and travel home, the more they [fans] make me believe bigger than I have always dreamt of,” he added.

“The more I see the the passion, the hunger that everyone wants for us to get there and do well. I think when I get there I will understand a bit more than I do now.”

Iwobi represented England at under-16, 17 and 18 level before switching allegiance to Nigeria, and has made 27 appearances for the West African nation.

He has since produced some stunning rainbow flicks and tricks that has conjured images of Okocha in his pomp and showcased his nephew’s undoubted ability.

Despite saying he wants to be his own man, the local media and fans continue to liken him to the former Super Eagles captain and Iwobi is unruffled.

“I can never get tired of people comparing us. I see my uncle as an idol, someone I have always looked up to as a footballer,” he said.

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“When people compare me to him… it’s like ‘wow’ maybe they see me on his level but I don’t believe I am there yet.

“It is what it is, he’s a skilful player, I’m quite skilful myself so they are always going to compare me to him especially that he’s my uncle.

“I still have a long way to go, maybe one day I can be on his level or greater.”

The Super Eagles had a disappointing 2018 World Cup – where he was one of the more talented players in a Nigeria squad that was the youngest (with an average of 25) of all the teams in Russia.

The Nigerian fans had hoped that Iwobi would play a key role in Russia but were left disappointed that the Arsenal player was only given a half against Croatia and late substitute appearances against Iceland and Argentina.

He is hoping for a better campaign in Egypt as Nigeria chase a fourth title at the newly expanded finals.

“We were unfortunate not to go past the group stage in Russia, I think the team did well,” Iwobi said.

“Unfortunately, I didn’t play as much as I would’ve liked to but I can only look to helping the team when needed.

“We’ve heard people say stuff like going there to win it and some have pointed out that as a young and inexperience squad it will be a huge pressure.

“I don’t see it as pressure, I think if we can continue to play like we did during the qualifiers we’d have a successful tournament.

“Collectively we picked lessons in Russia and we need to make it count now.”

In October 2015 Iwobi made his debut against DR Congo in a friendly in Belgium and has scored five goals including one in the 2-1 friendly defeat to England at Wembley last year.

By Adeboye Amosu

COMMENTS

WORDPRESS: 3
  • Omo9ja 1 month ago

    I think you can with prayer and hard work it is achievable. Mind you Iwobi, it’s all depends on the coach too. If I could remember, Jay Jay wasn’t a starter in that team likewise what the Oga Rohr did against Zambia when you scored the lone goal of the match.

    Indeed you have a huge role to play in Egypt as a joker player if coach Rohr knows it but that is where I am having a concerned.

    Is not about having huge talents in your team but how to use the raw talents you have in your team.

    I am saying this before the Afcon final list is out. Simmy, Onuachu and Ighalo are the main strikers for this year Afcon while Osimeh will be deployed to the under20 or under23 including Chukwueze.

    After the Afcon, Ighalo and Simmy will gives way for Osimeh and co. Same thing applies to our goalkeeping department.

    Last but not least. Coach Rohr should be fully ready for this year Afcon challenges because there is no point if you have qualities in your team but doesn’t know how to use the materials. Kayode as an example.

    Therefore, Iwobi, I wish you the best. Hopefully, coach Rohr is ready to deliver in Egypt this year in June. Happy weekend my people. God bless us all. God bless Nigeria!!!

    • Yes, nothing is impossible and anyone can repeat the success of others in as much as ready to pay the price and put in the desired focus, hard work and discipline.
      Indeed wishing to see Iwobi achieve this dream of his.

  • Alex Iwobi is by far better than what Austine ‘Jay-Jay’ Okocha came to be, eventually.
    As far as the AFCON concerns us the only player Iwobi is going to have to emulate is either a best goal getter or the best assist kings of Africa on the Africa and the standards are there to tell.
    When i talk about Iwobi i talk about credible potentials to become the very best.
    In whatever he does he has to think that at some point in his life he has to think of becoming the world best. He needs his team mates and the coaches to help him get there a little faster.