Junior Ajayi

Ajayi: Olympics Group C Is Strong, But We’ll Be Ready To Fight

Completesportsnigeria.com's JOHNNY EDWARD, get's CS Sfaxien of Tunisia winger, Junior Ajayi talking about the challenges ahead for the Nigeria U-23s at the Rio 2016 Olympics. The former 3SC forward who is in Samson Siasia's provisional list for the Games also speaks about his career experiences in Tunisia.
Excerpts..

 

How delighted are you making the provisional squad for the Rio Olympics?

Very happy because that's the first step and the next one is to be named in the final 18 for Rio

What was the experience like playing in the Tunisian league?

It was a great experience for me playing in a different league outside of Nigeria, but I was disappointed we lost the league title to Etoile du Sahel.

We started the season very well and most of our fans believed we would be champions at the end of the season, but I think we lost the title due to loss of concentration. We will learn from our mistakes and I believe the title won’t elude us again.

You scored ten goals and provided seven assists playing as a winger in your debut season in Tunisia. How do you think this will boost your confidence ahead of the Olympics?

Firstly, I’m not a natural winger but after my first training at CS Sfaxien my coach told me I could be a hit for the team playing from the wings, and I took that challenge even if I knew I could do better as a centre forward. As a player, I strive to be better than my last performance. 

Nigeria face Sweden, Colombia and Japan in Group C at the Olympics. How far do you think the Olympic team will go?

It’s a strong group and we cannot afford to disappoint. I think we will do well at the Rio Olympics in Brazil. For me, the ultimate prize is the gold medal which I believe we can achieve. Training is going on smoothly here and the team is gradually getting into shape which is the most important thing.

But judging from the Suwon tournament, most Nigerians still have doubt over the U-23 team’s ability to equal the Atlanta 1996 feat…

It’s normal for Nigerians to feel that way especially after the second game against Denmark where the team lost 6-2, but I think they were unlucky to not to have converted the several chances created. The tournaments will also help the team work on the flaws 

Do you think the team missed your absence in Korea?

The team is blessed with quality players so I’d say maybe or maybe not.

The U-23 team coach is spoilt for choice in the attacking positions with the likes of Alex Iwobi, Kelechi Iheanacho, Moses Simon, Imoh Ezekiel to list a few. Don’t they scare you?

They don’t scare me, but it will make me give more to secure my place in the team. Playing alongside them will make me better. I welcome the battle for shirts as it will help the team stay competitive for the Olympics.

And how do you think the inclusion of likes of Mikel Obi, Godfrey Oboabona, Kenneth Omeruo, Odion  Ighalo will help the team?

Their wealth of experience will be vital to the team during crucial stages of the games. I hope their respective teams release them timely for the team.

 How has playing with Kingsley Sokari helped you at CS Sfaxien?

It helped a great deal because when I first arrived, I was always bored and the language barrier restricted my communication in the team. I was much more settled in the team when he arrived because we had already struck a bond at the national U-23 team. I miss him here in camp.

You played for Shooting Stars Sports Club of Ibadan before you left for CS Sfaxien. Could you tell us the difference between the Nigerian professional League and the Tunisian Ligue?

There's a huge difference in both leagues. In the NPFL, you have tough players just like in Tunisia as well but most players there are very technical and skilfull. So that's the major difference. They don't just run after the balls.

Shooting Stars Sports Club of Ibadan are currently battling relegation again this season. Are you not surprised this is becoming a trend for the Oluyole Warriors?

It is surprising, sincerely, because when I try to get updates on football and I read about their battle for survival it hurts me a bit ,but I believe they will avoid the drop. The new coach has won three games now which will put the team in a safe place.
 
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