Jamilu Collins is good enough to be Nigeria’s first-choice at left-back and should be playing ahead of Brian Idowu, according to former striker Jonathan Akpoborie.
Collins got his maiden invitation to the national team ahead of last month’s 2019 African Cup of Nations qualifiers against Seychelles and Liberia friendly; one met with a varying level of scepticism regarding the league he competes in.
The 24-year-old turns out for Paderborn in the 2. Bundesliga and there were concerns about coach Gernot Rohr handing a call-up to a second division player. But the German tactician repeated the gesture ahead of Saturday’s game against Libya.
However, Akpoborie – who spent the majority of his career in Germany turning out for first and second division clubs including Saarbrücken and Wolfsburg – has talked up the level of competition in the German second tier and believes if players from China and other teams from lesser European top-flights are given a chance, Collins’ should be no problem.
“If we can actually bring players from China, I see no reason why you cannot call somebody from the second division in Germany,” Akpoborie said.
“The second league here you can use to compare with a lot of leagues here in Europe – their first division leagues.
“When you talk about the second division of the German football you can compare it to the Czech first division, to the Norwegian first division, to the Swedish, Danish division.
“That’s how strong the 2. Bundesliga here and Paderborn are sixth and really doing well.
“The coach [Steffen Baumgart] there is a very good friend of mine. We played together [at Wolfsburg] and his philosophy is a very good one. And if our player is playing there that means he’s good enough and he is playing in a position that we are very, very bad.
“That’s a position that actually cost us our progress at the World Cup. I’m not even supposed to be the one to tell the coach that ‘look the boy is good’.
“If he can survive the 2. Bundesliga here…he should know because he’s European, except the Nigerian factor is getting to him and that’s a very, very big problem.”
Highly rated Nigeria Professional Football League left-backs Ikouwem Utin and Ebube Duru have been eyed for the position, with the latter invited for Super Eagles’ friendly against Liberia last month.
Akpoborie believes both players should also be considered ahead of Idowu whom, according to him, underwhelmed at this summer’s World Cup where Nigeria crashed out in the group stage.
“In that position, we have enough players. Ikouwem Udoh [Enyimba], you have Ebube Duru [Lobi Stars]. You have people who can play better than the person who played at the World Cup.
“I’d not know the criteria the coach is using to pick all of these players. I don’t know. That’s why I said the Nigerian factor because you do have a better player but you chose to pick somebody who’s not as talented as the one I’m mentioning.”
On who should be starting Saturday’s crucial Afcon qualifier against Libya, the former Stuttgart striker continues: “Most definitely [we are in safe hands with Collins].
“If he’s been called up then that means maybe the man acknowledges that he has a problem with that position and the World Cup.
“Idowu did not give me that impression that he can play that position at the World Cup very well and if he cannot do that when we have so many other talented players, then why should he be there?
“The national team is nobody’s property.”
The Super Eagles will hope to get a positive result in their doubleheader fixture against the Mediterranean Knights as they look to get to pole position in Group E.