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Fans hail Joe Aribo, wants more from No 10

By Gowon Akpodonor
18 January 2022   |   4:05 am
Attacking playmakers of a team often wear the jersey No 10. In most cases, the role of offensive playmakers is to make incisive passes to wingers, seeing them through on goal or to deliver ‘killer’ crosses, as well as scoring goals themselves.

Nigeria’s midfielder Joe Aribo warm up prior to the Group D Africa Cup of Nations (CAN) 2021 football match between Nigeria and Sudan at Stade Roumde Adjia in Garoua on January 15, 2022. (Photo by Daniel BELOUMOU OLOMO / AFP)

Attacking playmakers of a team often wear the jersey No 10.  In most cases, the role of offensive playmakers is to make incisive passes to wingers, seeing them through on goal or to deliver ‘killer’ crosses, as well as scoring goals themselves.

Players like Diego Maradona, Michel Platini, Dennis Bergkamp, Ronaldinho, Zinedine Zidane, Mesut Ozil and Francesco Totti distinguished themselves using the jersey No 10 to thrill fans whenever they were on the field of play.

In Nigeria, one player who readily comes to mind in that category is Austin ‘Jay Jay’ Okocha. Since he retired from active play, Nigerians have been starved of good dribblers, quality ball distributors, as well as set-piece experts.

One of the reasons many Nigerian fans criticised former Super Eagles coach, Gernot Rohr, was lack of wing play by his team, a pattern the Nigerian senior team was known for in the 1980s down to the Clemens Westerhof’s era of 1990s.

The Super Eagles seem to be gradually returning to old pattern of wing play under interim coach, Austin Eguavoen, as witnessed in the first group match against Pharoahs of Egypt. The team continued its impressive run of form last Saturday, when they recorded a 3-1 win against Sudan.

To some fans, however, the man wearing the Super Eagles’ jersey No 10, Joe Aribo, still has a lot of work to do. Those who spoke with The Guardian shortly after the game against Sudan were of the opinion that Aribo, who plies his trade with Glasgow Rangers, is far from impressive, considering his role as ball distributor.

“This is not to castigate Joe Aribo, but I am not satisfied with his ball distributions as someone wearing the Super Eagles’ jersey No 10,” one member of the Supporters Club, who identified himself as Samuel, said shortly after the game against Sudan.

“As a No. 10, Aribo’s role is to spray killer passes from the midfield to the wingers. I have not seen such in the two games we have played so far in this competition. I hope he realises his role as the engine room of the team.

“Most times, I saw our wingers running deep to collect the ball. If our pattern of wing play must be effective, Coach Austin Eguavoen has to look for a player, who can effectively fit into that position. As I said, I am not trying to run Aribo down. He has a lot of work to do to win my heart as Super Eagles’ No 10.”

Another fan, Musa, a Nigerian based in Garoua, also said Aribo needs to improve on his game. “We need a No 10 player who can hold on to the ball, cause havoc with his dribbling skill and spray surprise passes from the midfield to the wingers. To me, we don’t have such a player yet in this team. Aribo should work very hard, and very fast.”