INTERVIEW: Akpoguma Talks About Current Form, Rohr, Super Eagles, Idol

December 14, 2021

In this interview courtesy of, Nigeria international, Kevin Akpoguma, talks about his club, TSG Hoffenheim’s current form in the Bundesliga, as well as his career so far with the Nigeria national team, since he made the decision to represent the Super Eagles last year. The 1.92m-tall lynchpin of Hoffenheim’s defence also reveals the Bundesliga idol he had as a young footballer. He also bares his thoughts on working with Germot before the German’s sacking as Nigeria coach.

Akpoguma on TSG Hoffenheim’s current form in the Bundesliga, compared to their lack of consistency just a few weeks ago


“The process has always been the same. Not much has changed. At the moment, we have good spirits on the pitch. Mistakes happen all the time in football, but we are trying to minimise them together and help each other. We are doing that well. We are defending well. We are also having good moments at the front with players like Ihlas Bebou and Georginio Rutter who do a really good job at the front. They make us think that we can stay in the opponent’s half which means we can be dangerous and create chances. We are strong at set pieces, so it allows us to win corners from which we can score goals.”




Akpoguma on why TSG Hoffenheim is successful even though regulars such as Kramaric, Baumgartner, Rudy or Skov are injured

“The depth of the team is very strong – that is clear to see. The back line, our defenders, we can replace them individually. Same goes for our joker cards and our midfield. The important thing is to maintain the same level of intensity, especially when some of our starting line-up isn’t there. That is how we can push each other in the matches. When the chances come, there are a lot of players that don’t play very often, but I think the players that we throw in have the ability to hit the ground running. Like I said, our depth is a very big advantage for us at the moment. You can also see that there are no frustrations from the players that are not playing as much. They burn and give it their all in training. I am really impressed.”

Akpoguma on TSG Hoffenheim’s playing philosophy

“We try to play aggressively at the front whilst also trying to recover the ball as quickly as possible once we lose it. High press, constant movement, aggression, a lot of pace. That is what we are doing at the moment, and it is working quite well. Like I said, we have the players and characteristics throughout the squad. I also think that we have had some troubles getting started; the coach has only been here for one and a half years. Clearly, last season wasn’t great, but time is required for a coach with a team, and for a team with its coach. Now, we are at the point where we want to be, and this is the way it should continue.”

Also Read: ‘How Eguavoen Can Become Successful As Super Eagles Interim Coach’ –Onigbinde

Akpoguma on his switches between centre-back and full-back

“I see myself in the position that the coach needs me in. Where the team needs me. It is always up to the coach. At the moment, I am playing as a full-back. A couple of us were out. A couple are now back. I am pleased with that. For me, it is important to play my game, regardless of the position. I am happy to play wherever I can help and at the moment, it is as a full-back. Obviously, for those who are not aware of how it was in the youth teams, I played as a full-back a lot back then. With Germany’s U19s, we became European champions, and I was playing as a full-back. I played my first professional match as a full-back, so it isn’t something new for me. Obviously, if you have been playing as a centre-back for all these years, you do have to change your thinking a bit, but I don’t feel strange in that position. I play both positions with pleasure. It is not like I would rather play this or that. I don’t mind which.”

Akpoguma on his strengths

“I think my advantages are my physical attributes. My height is probably not ideal for this full-back position in terms of 1v1 or turning but for my height, I have a good dynamic. I have pace and good acceleration. With the ball, I also do some things that perhaps aren’t typical of someone with my stature. That is why it makes no difference for me playing inside or wide. However, in terms of mentality, there is a difference. Playing as a deep-lying centre-back, you do not have this urge to be offensive. You look to build up play, and ensure that the rest of the defense is lined up properly. The full-back position has a bit of everything. You have to be at the front and at the back. It is a very exciting task. It is fun. There is not much else to say.”

Akpoguma on his idols when growing up

“I would say that the first idol I had was Jerome Boateng. We have the same height and the same attributes. He also played as a full-back and is technically a full-back so that is why he was one of the first players that I idolised.”

Akpoguma on his national team career with Nigeria

“My start was not that easy. I decided last year to play for Nigeria’s national team. We had two friendly games against two great nations – Algeria and Tunisia – and then we had the qualification round for the upcoming African Cup of Nations. Two draws. One very unhappy draw that I took part in. It wasn’t too great. For the return legs, I had my injury. Because of that, I lost a lot of games, as in wasn’t able to take part. We had some difficult games. People in Africa expect a lot from Nigeria. If you think of Nigeria, it is considered one of the top four, top three. Especially due to the past: Jay-Jay Okocha, Nwankwo Kanu. These are players that reached a really high level. At the moment, players like Osimhen, Wilfred Ndidi, Alex Iwobi – these are top players where you think success has to be achieved. That is why we will see what will happen at the African Cup. I hope that I will reach performance levels that I have not yet reached for the national team. I hope that, especially at a tournament like this, the caps will come and that in the future, I will become a regular for the Nigerian team.”

Akpoguma on his teammate in the national team and Union Berlin player Taiwo Awonyi

“Taiwo Awonyi is a player that deserves to play for Nigeria. An incredible player with brutal physicality. He knows where the goal is from inside the box. A player that would be a great asset, especially to Nigeria. I hope that the coach will have Taiwo on his list for the African Cup.”

Also Read: Bundesliga Matchday-16: Half Season Beckons Amid Goals, Entertainment, Surprise Results

Akpoguma on his national team coach Gernot Rohr

“An advantage is the language. German or English, it doesn’t matter but I speak German with the coach because we understand each other better. However, I don’t have any other advantages due to me being born in Germany or him being German. I think it is important for me to get nominated for my performances. The coach decides who the best players are and puts together the best XI.”

Akpoguma on his roots and his youth in Germany

“I was born in Germany, and I grew up in Germany. My father came to Germany a year earlier, in 1994. He moved in with my mother and I arrived not long after. Obviously, my father wanted to integrate himself as much as possible by learning the language and learning the culture. I was, therefore, raised as a European. It was not like I had African traditions.
We had African food at home now and again but generally, I had little to do with Africa. I visited Africa twice when I was younger. Some of my father’s brothers also moved to Europe. To Germany but also to England. We visited them during the summer holidays, where we stayed for two weeks in England. That was helpful for learning the language better – it also allowed me to experience new cultures. Now that I am a player in the national team, I do visit Nigeria a lot. I am glad to be able to meet and get to know my father’s family in Nigeria.”


SINSHEIM, GERMANY – DECEMBER 04: Kevin Akpoguma of Hoffenheim is seen during the Bundesliga match between TSG Hoffenheim and Eintracht Frankfurt at PreZero-Arena on December 4, 2021 in Sinsheim, Germany. (Photo by Alexander Scheuber/Bundesliga/Bundesliga Collection via Getty Images)

Akpoguma on the remaining games this year

“My goal is to play all remaining games with TSG. Afterwards, I will be off to the African Cup so I will be missing a couple games with Hoffenheim. That is why I will concentrate on these remaining games. I obviously want to achieve the maximum. They are difficult games, but they are on our level. If we continue our good form and also get a bit of luck – it is not like we are weaker than other teams, but you do need a bit of luck – it could go really well. That is my goal. Afterwards, we will see.”

Akpoguma on the most difficult opponent he has faced so far

“Filip Kostić is definitely one of them, but there are a lot. There are some great players in the world. In the Bundesliga, this season it was Filip Kostić. He was the strongest player. Internationally, I haven’t had so many games. Tanguy Ndombele was a great opponent in the game against Lyon. He is a really good player.”

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