ENYEAMA: ‘RWANDA IS A MUST WIN!’
Posted: Jun 16, 2012
Super Eagles stand-in skipper poised to make up for blunder in Blantyre
About 150 millions of Nigerians are still sad that Super Eagles gifted the Malawians a draw in that encounter, with few seconds to the end of the game. What went wrong Vincent?
Well, in football such things happen; you see a goal scored in the dying minutes of the game and you ask yourself how it came to be. Suppose, all you need to do is to move on and learn from the mistake. The most important thing is that that game is now history; we now have another important game against Rwanda that we must win. It was painful that Malawi had to get an equalizer in a game that seemed won after we went ahead in the dying minutes of the match. I went for a punch but fell and before I could stand up, the damage had already been done. It would have been great to bag three points, but a draw is not a bad result by every standard. I hate to remember the game in Blantyre. I hope to make atonements for that mistake against Rwanda. We just have to forget it and move on.
There were talks that the captainship armband may have affected your performance lately. Do you think wearing the armband is one responsibility too many?
No. That is not true. A lot of top goalkeepers like Gigi Buffon and Iker Cassilas are the captains of their respective teams and they have performed excellently well. Wearing the captain’s armband never weighs me down one bit, even though it is another good responsibility for me. All I do is to try as much as possible to give it the best shot while in goal. It is a great honour to lead one’s country. I have led my club too on several occasions and am not new to wearing the captain’s armband. As matter of fact, wearing it even makes me want to shed my blood on the field of play, so any time I let the team down, I bear the burden alone.
But it could have been costly if that was a game Nigeria had to win to qualify for the World Cup. What lesson did you learn here?
Thank God it was not, but like I said earlier on, I have learnt lots of lessons; I have learnt that a game is not over until the referee blows his whistle. Secondly, it showed that we must keep fighting until our opponent is down and defeated. It really hurt but I cannot change the hands of time.
Rwanda is next on Super Eagles fixture list and Nigeria must win to move to the final round of 2013 Africa Cup of Nations qualifiers, the stakes are high here Vincent, and the road is rough.
The game against Rwanda is one of the most important games we must win to move forward in the Nations Cup qualifiers. It is one of the important games which determines the future of this team, we are aware of that but I can assure you that all hands will be on deck to ensure we don’t give room for another upset. Rwanda have showed us how well they can play when Nigeria picked a goalless draw in Kigali, but I will say that the artificial turf in Kigali was beneficial to them but it’s our turn now to pay them back in their own coins. This game is important to my career because it is a must win game. We have been playing lots of matches just like them but I know this game will be won and nothing is going to stop us. We have been preparing well for this epic encounter, it is crucial unlike the last two games that were just a round robin thing but a winner must emerge in the game against Rwanda and it has to be Nigeria by the special grace of God.
Looking at the current FIFA ranking, Nigeria is miles ahead of Rwanda but they showed lots of great stuff in the first-leg, what are your expectations?
Football in Africa has developed beyond what it used to be, no team is regarded as a minnow any longer, especially with the victory of Zambia at the last Africa Cup of Nations. We in the Super Eagles, have learnt a lot from this and we intend not to underrate Rwanda when we take them on in Calabar today. No team loves to be a victim of the bigger side in Africa. I know the Rwandan coach has been talking but talk is cheap, all we want to do is beat them in Calabar and then move on to the next stage of the competition. Rwanda are not a bad side at all especially with the way they played in the first leg, but we are equal to the task too. Our coaches have continued to psyche the players and nothing but victory will be enough against Rwanda. Missing the last Nations Cup was not funny at all, in fact I still feel bad that Nigeria could not make it to the last Nations Cup in Gabon and Equatorial Guinea. Having said that, I believe we have learnt our lessons and we won’t allow such bad omen to repeat itself.
Super Eagles are going through a transformation under Coach Stephen Keshi with virtually a new defence in place. Do you find it difficult coping with the new faces, especially at the back?
Honestly, the team has been amazing if what I have seen in our last three last games are anything to go by. The home lads have really risen to the occasion and it only shows that the future of Super Eagles is bright. I mean, everybody is really working for one another, fighting for one another and that is the hallmark of a good team. A team that can cover up for one another will reign together. I really love the camaraderie and bond that exists in this team. That is one great thing a coach puts in place and I am happy with the coaching crew led by Stephen Keshi, it is just a matter of time before this team blends into a strong side, good enough to compete for honours in Africa and beyond.
This month makes it exactly a decade for you in the Super Eagles, how times flies.
Yeah, it’s a great feeling for me, which really explains why I want to win something special for Nigeria. The only way I can make my decade in the team count is to win the Nations Cup for Nigeria, I really thank God for his mercies.
A lot of people have argued that Enyeama is arrogant especially with the way you address some of the home-based players and even fans alike. Are you guilty of those allegations?
(Laughter) I quite disagree with those who say Enyeama is arrogant. People that are close to me, know very well that I am down to earth and can be approached easily. I mean why would I want to be arrogant to a country that gave me the opportunity to express my talents? Why would I be arrogant to fans out there that spend their hard-earned money to watch Super Eagles? No I won’t do that. Maybe those who claim that I’m arrogant have not really spent time with me. I am a peace loving fellow and I respect people for who they are. I may have my own weakness but it does not make me arrogant in anyway.
Would you say that leaving Israel for French Ligue 1 is the wrong decision you made in your career?
No! I have no regret moving to France, everywhere you go in life there will be challenges because those are what make the world revolve around us. What is rightly expected of you is to give it a try and fight for a place and recognition. I knew all along that it will be difficult to unseat Lille’s first choice goalkeeper but it was a not a bad adventure to have given it a trial. Some decisions favour you while it can be the other way round sometimes. I can never regret leaving Israel even though I yearn for regular action every season.
Meaning you could be on your way out already?
(Smiles) Well, I am much more concerned with helping Nigeria get to the next round of 2013 Nations Cup qualifiers for now. I am waiting for offers but let us see how things unfold in the coming weeks.
It really hurts to have given away a goal in the dying minutes of additional time in Blantyre, but I assure Nigerians that we will surely put smiles on their faces against Rwanda today.
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