Football often creates dynasties and lineages. Nowhere is this more evident than in the Nigerian national team, where Alex Iwobi is set to overtake the appearances made by his legendary uncle, Jay-Jay Okocha, for his beloved Super Eagles.
Iwobi will also be hoping that this milestone can inspire him and his teammates to follow in his uncle’s footsteps and win the Africa Cup of Nations again after an 11-year drought.
Alex Iwobi Nigeria caps – key facts
Iwobi is currently tied with his uncle, Jay-Jay Okocha on 73 appearances for the Super Eagles. If he plays the quarter-final against Angola, as is expected, he will overhaul Okocha.
Jay-Jay Okocha is the younger brother of Iwobi’s mother, and has a close relationship with his nephew, playing football with him as a child, and often sends Iwobi advice and encouragement via WhatsApp.
Iwobi’s 73 Nigeria caps are only bested by captain Ahmed Musa in the current Super Eagles squad.
The 27-year-old has scored ten goals in his 73 appearances for his country.
Iwobi’s most iconic Nigeria goal came at AFCON 2019, when he completed the Super Eagles’ 3-2 comeback against Cameroon with a cool finish beyond Andre Onana.
Iwobi played an unfamiliar striking role in 2017, in a 4-2 friendly win over Argentina, in which he netted two goals.
But the now-Fulham man is much more comfortable in midfield these days, and hasn’t scored for the Super Eagles since June 2022. He would surely love to break his duck on such a momentous occasion.
Iwobi’s win percentage for Nigeria is a respectable 47%.
Can Alex Iwobi help Nigeria win AFCON 2023?
Iwobi may not be the likeliest to score the winning goal for Nigeria, but he is instrumental in making the team tick. This is illustrated by his anytime to score odds against Angola being priced at a generous 11/2, perhaps to be expected when on an 18-month goal drought.
A partnership to keep an eye on, however, is Iwobi and Victor Osimhen. The Napoli forward, wanted by many of Europe’s elite, has set up two of Iwobi’s last four goals for Nigeria, and it would be fitting for Iwobi to end his drought on such a momentous day and on such a grand stage. Osimhen himself is favourite to score the opening goal against Angola at 19/5. For more tips on this huge AFCON quarter-final, check out our comprehensive guide.
Despite the frustrations often levelled at Iwob, particularly that he lacks end product, there is a reason the midfielder is near everpresent for his nation.
Iwobi is undoubtedly frustrating in front of goal, but he offers plenty of other benefits to his team. The 27-year-old has followed in his uncle’s footsteps of being extremely talented with the ball at his feet. He is able to carry the ball long distances, wriggle out of tight spaces, evade pressure, progress the ball up to Nigeria’s danger men with incisive passes, and combine with teammates at speed.
He also has added a dogged defensive grit to his game, and has been a key part of the Super Eagles’ watertight defence so far. No side has conceded fewer than Nigeria at AFCON so far. If Nigeria recapture AFCON, Iwobi will be at the beating heart of it.
William Evans is a football and politics fanatic. A first-class graduate of UEA's Broadcast and Digital Journalism MA course, he also achieved a first class degree in politics and media studies during his time at UEA.