Monaco left-back Elderson Echiejile is happy to be back in the Super Eagles squad after a lengthy absence. He tells Completesportsnigeria.com's JOHNNY EDWARD that the team has what it takes to qualify for the 2017 Africa Cup of Nations ahead of currently high-flying Egypt…
How does it feel coming back to the Super Eagles after a year out of the team?
Well, I'm happy to be recalled. I always do give my best to the team to win more laurels just like we've done in the past. It's a great feeling for a player to represent his country.
How do you think next month's friendlies against Congo and Cameroun in Belgium will build the new team being assembled by new coach Sunday Oliseh?
The Nigerian Football Federation should be hailed for these games to be held next month. I feel those games will truly show where the team is after four games under the guidance of Sunday Oliseh. So far the transition has been smooth and with the players invited for the games I'm confident that the team will be more fortified ahead of our World Cup qualifier in November and the Nations Cup next year.
So with the Super Eagles trailing Egypt with two points, you're still confident of Nigeria's chances?
Of course Egypt are a good side with good players but on our day they are no match to stop us. They are beatable home and away but we also must play well and take our chances if we must qualify. That's a task achievable under the new coach.
Surprisingly, you've been in two Eagles squads that failed to qualify for AFCON twice in three years. What do you think happened in those moments and how do you think that could be averted this time around?
Firstly, let's leave what happened in the past, but the lessons learnt from it should be paramount going forward. The remaining four games are winnable games but our approach could win us the games before the ball has been kicked.
How do you mean?
One thing that worked for us prior to our AFCON success story was the bond and unity and if that is the watchword for everyone like the new coach has clearly stated, I have no fears about our AFCON qualification. And like I said if we stay solid in defence, create and take our chances, we'll conquer Africa again.
There have been major departures at Monaco this season, is that the reason why your club has been languishing in the bottom half of the Ligue 1 log?
On the contrary, not at all. But there were quality additions as well and gradually we are beginning to find our feet now and I believe that we can build on that. No doubt the qualities of Anthony Martial who is a good friend and a couple for others like Kondogbia will be missed but the nucleus of the team is intact.
Who’s your tip for the Ligue 1 title this season?
I pray we win but PSG have been champions for the fourth consecutive year. And if the same applies this year then they’re the team to beat.
….And the chances of your team in the Europa League?
We've started well. Though we drew 1-1 away to Anderlecht in our opening day fixture I believe we stand a good chance of making it to the next round of the competition.
What’s your opinion of coach Leonard Jardim? Do you see him winning the title with Monaco?
He was my coach at Braga before I joined Monaco. I like his his honesty with the squad. He’s got a very clear idea of how he wants his team to play and he doesn’t deviate from that. And I like that element of him. But I don’t know – I’d just like to see him give a bit more freedom to the players that he’s got up front.
You've featured in five games this season for Monaco. One would think the departure of Lavyin Kurzawa to PSG will guarantee you regular action but the arrival of Fabio Coentrao from Real Madrid poses another threat?
Every team I've played for I strive to beat the competition there. I had my own share of time when Kurzawa was here and I will also battle to keep my place with the arrival of Coentrao. I wanted to go out on loan in search of regular action but it was blocked and we all know playing for a top club like Monaco you need to be in a competitive environment to rate how well you are in the game. So this fresh challenge will make me better. I'm in good shape and you could see that Coentrao and I both featured against Anderlecht.
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