Super Eagles midfielder Sani Kaita insists he is still relevant in the Nigerian national team almost five years after he was labelled the villain in Nigeria’s 2010 World Cup campaign in South Africa. Kaita was sent off for his indiscretion in Nigeria’s 2-1 defeat to Greece.
In this engaging interview, the new Ifeanyiubah United (Gabros FC) signing exclusively tells Completesportsnigeria.com’s IZUCHUKWU OKOSI his thoughts on the Super Eagles’ 2017 AFCON hopes and his reasons for returning to the Nigerian Premier League.
You signed for Gabros (Ifeanyiubah United), and not Rangers as you told Complete Sports last week. What happened?
Things change so fast o. Yes, Rangers did approach me, likewise Ifeanyiubah United. I have decided to play for Gabros now. I had a discussion with the Chairman and found out that the club have big ambitions. That is why I decided to sign for them.
Ok. So many of your fans may wonder why you came back to the Nigerian league. What’s the attraction back home…has the standard improved?
I think the league is improving year by year really…
In what aspects exactly, and how can it get better?
Officiating and the football level of course. And LMC has brought good ideas now to improve the league even better. But I think the officials should ensure that the synthetic pitches are watered properly before the start of each game and at half time too. You make it easy to your own players. The LMC need to do something about it because it is injurious to players. The natural grasses are far safer.
Alright. So before you left Kano Pillars for Europe, would you say the standard/level was not better than now?
Well the quality of players were really better before, but now the pitches are better now unlike before. We have better pitches that are television friendly than before.
Maybe the capacity building some ex internationals; coaches, referees and administrators went to London for this year helped too, you think so?
Yea sure. England is the home of football and it is nice to see that they have imbibed those things they learned there. We are talking about learning from some of the best technocrats in the game.
Talking about former internationals, is Sani Kaita now to be known as an ex international or you still eye a call-up to the Super Eagles?
I still want play for my country when I have a chance to do so. I still have the qualities to play for the Super Eagles. I look forward to getting an invitation from Stephen Keshi.
Ok. Midfielders’ main job is not to score goals but do you feel its an area you need to improve on in your game?
Yes sure. Our job is to screen the defence and pass the ball to the strikers to finish off the chances created but we also have goal-scoring midfielders, so I want to score more goals of course.
How was your experiences playing in Europe? Which games were your best and also worst? Any abuses from fans because you are black…Racism problem, that is?
Well I was never a target of racism whilst playing in Europe. My best games were in Russia when I played for Kuban Krasnoder. I played some matches against Lokomotive Moscow before I joined them. I particularly enjoyed one of our games against them. We won 1-0 but I wasn’t awarded the Man-of-the-Match prize. It went to our goalscorer which was painful.
Which means you have to work on your scoring feat as we said earlier?
(Laughter) Definitely, Its a part of my game that I’m working on surely.
So of all the leagues you have played in… Panathinaikos too; what are the things you feel the LMC can adopt to improve the league back home?
The organisation in European leagues are superb. Logistics are less of a problem really. The LMC can learn from this. But I’m happy with the trips recently as we talked earlier. And yea you can see the LMC are improving the league now, but they have to do something about the pitches before the match, just to make sure they wet them before and during the half time.
The Super Eagles now have Stephen Keshi returned as substantive coach of the Nigerian national team ahead of the 2017 AFCON qualifier against Chad. What isyour blueprint to Keshi to forestall the pitfalls that stopped Nigeria in 2015 from defending the AFCON title won in 2013?
Well starting on a good note; defeating Chad and ensuring that teams are not underrated. They must respect their opponents and be more committed. Don’t forget, I told you I’m looking forward to getting back in the team (laughter).
Well Keshi has the experience to lead the team , but of course not to be In 2015 AFCON was disappointing to every Nigerian, but we should know things do happen some times in football. I believe we’ll bounce back again.
Finally would you say the 2010 World cup was your worst moment as Super Eagles star?
Well I wish people will also remember how I helped Nigeria to reach the 2008 Olympics final and other tournaments that I have played in. Anyway, it was bad mistake but I moved on from that incident.
Its a pleasure speaking with you, Sani.