Joseph Yobo says four points against the Leone Stars of Sierra Leone will be enough to qualify the Super Eagles for next year’s AFCON in Cameroon.
Yobo, an assistant coach to Gernot Rohr, said this in an interview published on the Super Eagles YouTube channel.
The Eagles will host Sierra Leone, in the first of two legs, of the qualifiers in Benin City on Friday.
The three-time AFCON winners lead Group L on six points after two games while Sierra Leone are bottom with just a point.
And speaking ahead of the game, Yobo who captained Nigeria to win the 2013 AFCON in South Africa, stated that winning the first-leg in Benin is more important than the reverse fixture in Freetown.
“These are big games. There’s a difference between friendly matches just like the ones we played, (against Algeria and Tunisia) grade A friendlies, very tough. It was experimental where we gave younger players the opportunity to show themselves. But this is a qualifying match where if we do well in both games we will almost qualify for the AFCON.
“We expect big performance and very good results. If we have to do the math I think four points will get us through. But when you play at home, it’s crucial, it is so important to play very well and to take the three points.
“Away from home we know is always difficult especially Sierra Leone. If I can remember the last time we were away to Sierra Leone was 2008 and it was very difficult and I scored the only goal. So, it’s a difficult place to go to but football has also changed so the first game is what is important.
“I try not to bother much about the second game. All we have at this moment is the first game so we need to play very well and our performance will get us the three points.”
On his decision to go into coaching, Yobo said he always knew he would become one after his playing career.
“When you go through a successful career you learn a lot during that period. The biggest experience I had is when you get older from 27, 28 to 30 years that’s when you start realising that you are not just a player, you are now part of the leadership. As much as I was a player on the pitch I was also involve in things that was off the pitch as well.
“At a point I know coaching was going to come, it was like a natural transition for me and my kind of person as well.
“When I finished my career I had coaching, I had pundit and other things I wanted to do in sport but I started being a pundit. While being a pundit the urge, the hunger to being a coach started coming back again. When I retired I thought about coaching and I lost two coaches that were so important to the nation and to myself in particular, that’s late Stephen Keshi and Shuaibu Amodu.
“These are two people that saw me coming up and were a big part of my career, at that moment I was confused. It was very tough on me, then I started being a pundit and while doing my analysis the hunger and desire came back. So I thought about it and the opportunity came.
“So it’s something that has been there, it’s not that difficult for me, I know with some people it does take time but I had it in my card and I am enjoying it.”
And on his first assignment on the Eagles bench in their friendly games against Algeria and Tunisia, the former Everton and Marseile star said:”It was good. One thing was that after my career I stayed away because I played for 13, 14 years and I wanted that break. So coming back was refreshing for me because most of the players haven’t seen me.
“I think it was a very good thing. And coming back as a coach and not as a captain or player anymore is a different ball game. We have the head coach, Gernot Rohr that is there and his team. For me, it was like a family. It was like I never left, even easier than I thought because when I got on to the pitch and into the mood of playing and coaching, the natural things I needed to do started coming out.
“So, whatever I do came out naturally and I think it’s because of my love and passion for the national team.”