EGWUEKWE: WE’LL MISS YOBO AGAINST NAMIBIA
Posted: May 30, 2012
Super Eagles central defender Azubuike Egwuekwe believes that captain Joseph Yobo’s injury was a big blow to the team in this interview with SAB OSUJI. The Warri Wolves star is also sure that Nigeria will beat Namibia in Calabar
How was the trip to Peru? I’m sure that was the farthest journey you have made in your career so far...
Well, you are right. It was the longest distance but all the same, it was worth it. It was just that we spent one day in Madrid, Spain which was not part of the arrangement in the first place. We arrived in (Lima) Peru very late and I must say that it was a nice place.
Could the distance and the Madrid incident be part of reasons why the team lost the game to the host country?
No, not at all. We arrived there and even had a day training before the match. So, I don’t think that had any side effect. It was just that they caught us on the counter and were able to take the chance.
Can you tell us what actually went wrong in the match?
I don’t think there was any thing specifically that went wrong. You know in football, it is expected that any team that converts its chances stand to win. So, the Peru team was able to take one of their chances in the game and that was the end of the game.
What did Keshi tell you guys in the dressing room at half time and after the game?
At half time, he cheered us up saying we played well but we can still go out there and level the scores. And at the end of the match, he was not happy that we lost and he made it clear to us and I quite understood his feelings.
It is not good losing two games in a row. We lost (3-2) to Egypt in the game before and coming again to lose (1-0) to Peru was not the best I must confess. This is not the best time for us to be losing like that.
We are going into serious competition and it is not proper facing these games with back-to-back loses.
We needed to win so we can have that winning spirit going into the games. I think he had every reason to feel the way he did and I share that feeling also with him.
What positives can you take from the defeat?
There is no doubt about the fact that as a player, I have not played against South American teams in my life and that game against Peru offered me the opportunity. There are so many things to take home from the game. I found out that the South American teams play a kind of football that is completely different from what we play here in Africa, and that game has really opened our eyes. They are very quick to the ball, take fast decision. It’s good we played them because we really have learnt something different from when we played against Egypt.
How do you look forward to the match against Namibia on Saturday in Calabar?
There is no other way to look forward to it than for us to aim to win. Victory is just what we want and nothing but the three points.
How prepared do you think the Super Eagles are for the game?
We are prepared. You can understand that we have been in camp for quite a while before the match against Peru. So, we are going to continue from where we stopped and I’m sure even if the game is to be played today, every player who gets the opportunity to play will give his 100% or even more. We have entered the period we have been waiting for which is the real qualifiers and for sure, with the support of all Nigerians and their prayers, we cannot disappoint.
What chances do you guys, I mean the home-based players stand to make the list for the match against Namibia now that the foreign-based players have joined the team?
It is not about competition between home or foreign-based players. It’s all about whom the ‘Big Boss’ selects for the game; who he believes can give him and the nation more than 100% to win the game because we must have to be at the Nations Cup next year and the World Cup in Brazil in 2014. We have learnt a bitter lesson not going to the 2012 Nations Cup and this time around, we must do every thing to pick the ticket for the coming edition. Whether home or foreign-based, the most important thing is that we are all Nigerians and we are poised to bring glory to the country.
How do you think the team can fare without captain Joseph Yobo in the game against Namibia; especially you who partnered him in the game against Rwanda?
Yobo is our leader. When I played together with him, I learnt a lot from him because he encouraged me and also the team. No doubt, no one will be happy missing one of his best weapons in war front. So, we will miss him dearly. I learnt a lot from him but if the ‘Big Boss’ asks me to play, why not. I have been playing with Papa Idris in the national team and you know both of us are from different clubs, yet we play together as if we have been in the same club for a long time. That is the effect of what the ‘Big Boss’ has been teaching us at the national team. But the truth remains that we need the experience of our captain, Joseph Yobo in the games and it is our prayers that he recovers fast.
Finally, what is your word for Nigerians ahead of the qualifiers coming up in June?
They should continue to support us. They should pray for us. We are determined to win all the games and ensure that we made them happy by qualifying for the two Championships. We cannot afford to disappoint them because we are well determined to win.
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