Quite a few eyebrows were raised when coach Rohr casted Akpoguma as a right fullback role in his earlier games for the Super Eagles with many simple concluding that the German tactician had lost the plot.
Up to that point, Akpoguma – who actually played against Nigeria in Under-20 football – was known predominantly as a centre defender.
To make matters worse, Rohr rode robustly against the tide of general opinion by claiming that Akpoguma performed “pretty well” as a full back against Algeria and Sierra Leone : a view that made many Super Eagles fans sick!
More so as the likes of Aina, Ebuehi, Shehu (not entirely a fan-favourite!) and Awaziem were available for selection.
However, coach Rohr had an ace up his sleeves and was truly up to something special.
This season, Hoffenheim have utilised Akpoguma as Right fullback no less 5 times in 7 outings and the 26 year old never failed to deliver.
Two assists and one goal in the league this season as a full back is testament to how offensive he can be in that position and further evidence that critics should sometimes just take a back seat and allow Rohr do his job.
His judgments might not be apparent to start with but in time, he (by and large) gets his vindication.
In effect, Nigeria now has two Awaziems: One made in Nigeria and the other made in Germany. Both quite capable fullbacks and centre backs. This adds value and dynamism of the Super Eagles.
Akpoguma’s return from injury is sure to please Rohr who would be only to happy to play him as a full-back for the Super Eagles as a lesson to many fans on the art of ‘patience’.
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