Yobo: Kenya should now dine with African stars

Former Nigeria's football captain Joseph Yobo (second left) with fans. [Jonah Onyango, Standard]

When former Nigeria Super Eagles captain Joseph Yobo battled Harambee Stars in the Fifa World Cup Qualifiers in 2013, he was convinced that the Kenyan outfit was destined for greatness.

This was because Kenya proved cumbersome for Nigeria to handle in the two legged tie, forcing a 1-1 draw away in Nigeria before losing 1-0 in the return leg, in Nairobi.

But the display by the determined Kenyan charges had convinced Yobo that their rivals were a side to watch in the coming years. It is now a decade since that encounter and the former Everton FC defender is wondering where Kenya is, when talking about African football.

“From my previous experience with Harambee Stars, Kenya should be among the giants of Africa by now,” Yobo told Standard Sports.

“We played the country and they were no pushovers. That difficult encounter showed there is something about Kenyan football that if managed well, great things can come out of it.”

“We need to see more of Kenya in continental football since Kenyans are very passionate about the game, especially if they are getting good results,” Yobo added.

The former Norwich defender is among the high profile sports personalities who were in Nairobi to analyse Saturday’s Uefa Champions League final between English Premier League champions Manchester City and Italian giants Inter Milan.

Manchester City emerged victorious thanks to Rodri Hernandez’s goal in the 68th minute.

When asked what Kenya should do to redeem its football image in Africa especially after the recent Fifa suspension, the former Marseille center back says a solid four-year plan is very necessary to keep the country forward and focus.

“There is a need to know where you want to be in the next four years, this will determine the course that you take to reach the intended destination.

“Kenya is big in Africa in football and more needs to be done to support the growth of the game so the country can qualify for AFCON again and even the World Cup in the future,” Yobo says.

The former Nigeria Super Eagles assistant coach hinted out his plan to follow in the footsteps of Cameroonian legend Samuel Eto’o by vying for the Nigeria Football Federation Presidency in the near future.

 “It’s too early to say, but all is possible. I have been a national team player, a national team captain, a national assistant coach so what’s next for me is definitely football management and administration, so why not? Let’s wait and see what the future holds.

After retiring from international football in 2014, Yobo has been spending quality time with his family and doing different things away from the game.

“Currently, I’m back home in Nigeria to take care of my business. I feel blessed and happy with my achievements, both in and out of football.

“I have a very strong good will and am happy that people recognize what I have done in the game, especially back in my country,” he highlighted.

As a way of giving back to the society, Yobo is also exploring possibilities of engaging in mentorship programmes that will inspire young and promising footballers.

“My aim is to impart the youngsters with knowledge and skills gained over the years in the beautiful game,” he stated.

Yobo hailed Andre Onana for his impressive show in the UEFA Champions League final on Saturday night stating the Cameroonian and Inter Milan goal keeper represented Africa well in the tie.

“He controlled the game, he gave out commands like a true leader, he was just unlucky to lose tonight,” Yobo said.

“I’m proud of Onana, his display in the match showed Africa has quality that can also be gotten here in Kenya. We need more African players to represent the continent in the big clubs,” he underlined.

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