IBENEGBU: WE HAVE NOTHING TO FEAR AGAINST EGYPT
Posted: Apr 12, 2012
Super Eagles star, Batholomew Ibenegbu, is confident that the Home Eagles will not disappoint in today’s international friendly game, saying they will give their best in this interview with BAMIDELE BOLUWAJI
You are one of the players that made the Eagles list against Egypt, how do you feel?
I feel great and happy to be part of the team. We have been in camp since last week and the coaches have made us to understand what to expect in the game, so, I am happy to be part of the squad list.
Do you see your inclusion in the team as a surprise after the coaches said it was a difficult task for them picking the final list for the Dubai game?
No, it is no surprise to me because the coaches said they were taking their time to pick the final list based on the plans they have for the game. And for those that were not picked, I would not say they are not good, we were just lucky to be included and we have a lot to do to make sure we don’t disappoint the coaches and Nigerians who are expecting so much from us. Did you miss anything while Coach Stephen Keshi was not in camp
with the team after he traveled to America to visit his family?
I don’t think we missed anything because all the coaches around are highly experienced and there is no way you‘ll train under such coaches and you will not learn. So, the fact that coach Stephen
Keshi was not around does not mean that the team lacked the technical knowledge or ability to face Egypt in this international friendly game.
How important is this game to you and other players in the team?
It is an important game to us because we must not lose and we are not going to say because it is a friendly game, we will not put in all our efforts. We have to put all our efforts to make sure that Nigeria is not disgraced in the game.
Any fear ahead the Egypt game?
No, there is no fear at all. Football is football anytime, any day.
We respect them but that does not mean that we are going there to count bridge. Dubai is a neutral ground and we are going there to give our best. It will even be a dream come true for some of us to play against them and from there, we will know how to rate them and ourselves when it comes to football.
Is this game going to be different from the friendly games you have played in the past?
It is not going to be different but the focus and the plan we have for the games are different. Now, we are using it to prepare for the matches we have in June and more so, Egypt is one of the best teams we have on the continent. So, we just have to step up our game to be able to play well .But whatever be the case, we are well prepared for them and we are well focused ahead of the game.
You were a member of the Sand Eagles; how can you describe the experience at the last World Cup in Italy?
I was with the Sand Eagles for a while, and the game is totally different from normal football. You have to play with your leg without boot, the sand is always hard and you have to be strong on the ground to get going. But all the same, it is very interesting.
At the World Cup, our plan was to go far, but the problem we had before going affected us. Towards the end of our match against Brazil, all the players were tired because the team was depleted; some of our players were not given visa to be with the team. The Brazilians were making substitutions but for us, we kept using the same set of players and there was no time to really rest. But we were not disgraced and we came back with the fair play trophy.
How do you feel winning your first trophy with Heartland FC?
It was a great feeling. I won the WAFU Cup in 2010 with the Super Eagles and a year later, the Federation Cup which is the biggest trophy in Nigeria football, although I missed some of the matches because of my participation in the World Cup with the Sand Eagles.
I was happy that I was among the players that made history, defeating Enyimba at the final. Nobody gave us a chance, but we were determined to perform after losing the CAF Champions League final few years back. The players and the management were all wonderful and I give glory to God for helping us all to be part of history.
Did you ever dream of playing for the Eagles?
Somehow! That has always been the dream of every player and I am not an exception. I knew that one day, I will play for my country and I thank God it has come to pass, I mean being a permanent feature in the ‘new’ Eagles.
Have you ever lobbied to be part of the national team?
Never! I don’t have to do that because my performances for my club speak volume of what I can do and that’s what has given me the confidence that I can be part of the team.
Do you think you are on course for a place in the new Eagles taking into consideration the preference for foreign based players, especially during major tournaments?
Of course, the players in the local league and the ones in Europe are playing the same game. Those in Europe are just opportune to be there for now, it is not because they are better. They have the opportunity and they are making good use of it. I see myself
fighting for a place in the team just like I have been doing and leave the rest to God.
Do you think you can break into that team after being dropped for the last qualifier against Rwanda?
Actually, I made the team to Rwanda, but I was not dressed for the match. I am sure my time will come. Before that match, I have been a starter in the team, so, I need to put more efforts so that the coach will not have any option than to field me. The Eagles are
currently replete with so many talented players, but I am certain that I can equally pull my weight if given the opportunity.
Which of your coaches has left an indelible mark on your career?
Kelechi Emetole. He was the one that spotted me while I was still in school. He discovered my talent during a tournament organized for tertiary institutions in Imo state. My school triumphed and Emetole asked me to join El Kanemi Warriors where he had been appointed as coach then. That was in 2004.
What is your greatest regret as a footballer?
My inability to be part of the country’s Olympic soccer squad that got to the final of the men football in 2008 and the 2010 FIFA World Cup in South Africa.
Can you give us inkling into your football career?
I started my professional football career in 2005 after graduating from the Imo State University where I studied Industrial Microbiology. But I started playing football as any other young boy on the streets and schools. I was fortunate to be selected as the team captain at the University. I joined El-Kanemi Warriors shortly after my graduation in 2005 from where I moved to Enyimba FC in 2006. I currently play for Heartland of Owerri, a team that I joined in 2007.
Wishing you all the best….
Thank you my brother.
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