Though he is eligible to play for his country of birth, England, he chose to star for the country of his fatherland, Nigeria. Against Ukraine on Tuesday, Joe Aribo debuted for the Super Eagles and he did not disappoint as he put up a Man-of-the-Match performance, which left many fans with the conviction that the future of the senior national team is very bright
Newly invited Glasgow Rangers midfielder to the Super Eagles, Joe Aribo announced himself to the world stage by scoring the first goal in the 4th minute with a simple tap-in via an Alex Iwobi’s cut back and went on to deliver a Man of the Match performance that left a number of fans drooling as Nigeria ironed out a 2-2 draw with hosts Ukraine at the Dnipro Arena on Tuesday night.
Though fans had been warned before the game to expect some fireworks from the Glasgow Rangers midfielder, not many reckoned they would be forced, on watching Aribo, to reminisce about the good old Austin Okocha days.
Rangers coach Michael Beale reacted to Aribo’s goal for Nigeria @MichaelBeale Love it @J_Aribo19.
Aribo earned his first call-up last week after his impressive start to 2019-20 at Ibrox under manager Steven Gerrard, and it’s safe to say his summer move from Charlton Athletic is starting to pay dividends.
Aribo isn’t expected to walk into the Super Eagles’ starting 11, though, with Leicester City’s Wilfried Ndidi and Stoke City’s Peter Etebo the favoured and long-term defensive midfield pairing. The former wasn’t available on Tuesday night due to injury, but the Rangers man has surely given Nigeria manager Gernot Rohr a selection headache following a wonderful debut.
Nigerian fans were over the moon with Aribo’s debut impact. The London-born star was in good form throughout the game and his powerful play in the heart of midfield certainly impressed the Nigerian fan base.
Plenty of fans took to Twitter after the game to highlight their joy at Aribo’s performance. Some even compared him to former Super Eagles hero Jay-Jay Okocha and Manchester United midfield dynamo Paul Pogba.
It looks like Rangers’ newest hero could also be about to have the same impact on international duty.
Aribo has vowed to continue wearing the colours of Nigeria even though he is eligible to play for his country of birth, England. The former Charlton Athletic star made his international debut against Ukraine on Tuesday evening but playing in the game at the Dnipro Arena does not compare him to the three-time African champions.
In a YouTube video uploaded by the Super Eagles Media team, Aribo said: ‘’I am Joseph Aribo, I am from Ondo State. I play for Glasgow Rangers.
‘’I am really happy to have got this call-up to Nigeria and I just want to make the most of it and play as long as possible and just do what I can for the team and make sure that we continue being the best that we can be.’’
Aribo has described himself as a midfielder with offensive and defensive qualities.
‘’I am a central midfielder and I like to get in and around the box. I can defend and I can attack,’’ he concluded.
Aribo, who has hit the back of the net four times in the new season, shares the same agent as Alex Iwobi, Ola Aina and Josh Maja.
Speaking from Ukraine, before the international friendly encounter, he said he was ready to seize his chance and put on a show for Nigerian fans and prove his worth to coach Gernot Rohr.
English-born Aribo recently joined Rangers from Charlton Athletic in England, having also previously turned out for Staines Town in non-league football.
He already has four goals in 12 games for Rangers this year after making an excellent start to the new campaign that has seen him rewarded with a call-up.
Aribo joined the likes of Teslim Balogun, Brian Idowu, Julius Aghahowa, Finidi George, Victor Agali and Obafemi Martins as Nigerians to have scored on their international debut after the Rangers midfielder scored the Super Eagles’ first goal in Tuesday’s friendly with Ukraine.
It took the 23-year-old less than three minutes into his maiden appearance for Gernot Rohr’s men to find the net thanks to Alex Iwobi’s assist.
According to Nigeria’s former youth coach, Mark Fabian, Aribo will use the “huge experience” he gained in the recent Old Firm defeat to cope with the pressure of being a success at Ibrox. Fabian worked with Aribo at Staines Town before he signed for Charlton Athletic and has “no doubt” that the midfielder will cope with the expectations at Ibrox.
Despite struggling against Celtic in the 2-0 defeat at Ibrox, Fabian is confident that it’ll stand Aribo in “good stead” after a positive start to his Rangers career.
“I know the Old Firm game didn’t go the way he or Rangers would have wanted but it would have been a huge experience for him and it will stand him in good stead,” Fabian said.
“I have no doubt he will cope with the pressure of playing for Rangers. Joe’s got a great mentality and he’s played in big games in huge atmospheres.
“He played play-off final against Sunderland at Wembley last year and looked comfortable on that stage.
“He won’t be intimidated by playing at Ibrox every other week. The fans will take to him because he gives 100 per cent every time he goes on to the pitch.”
Aribo’s form for Rangers since signing for the Gers over the summer saw him win his first call-up to the Nigerian national team.
With tough competition for starting places at Ibrox, Aribo will need to be at his best consistently if he is to keep his place in the side.
There’s no doubt that his Old Firm experience will help him in the long-term though and he’ll be a better player for it when the sides meet again later in the season.