SHORUNMU: RWANDA ARE NO THREATS TO EAGLES
Posted: Jun 13, 2012
Super Eagles assistant coach Ike Shorunmu says the team will be well prepared to win Saturday’s 2012 African Cup of Nations qualifier against Rwanda in Calabar. He spoke with BAMIDELE BOLUWAJI
Sir, how would you react to the late minute goal conceded by goalkeeper Vincent Enyeama in last Saturday’s 2014 FIFA World Cup qualifying match against Malawi?
We had a tough game in Blantyre, but we are happy that we still came back with a draw. We should not be looking for someone to blame. The mistake has been made and we just have to carry on. The players must have learnt from that result and I am sure that such will not happen in future. We just have to put that behind us and start planning towards the next game.
Don’t you think that the result in Malawi will affect the players’ psyche as you proceed in the qualifying series?
No, we are not going to allow that because we know what it means losing 2 points in Blantyre, and we are going to work harder to make sure that every department in the team is taken care of; so that such mistake will not happen in subsequent matches we are going to play in the qualifying games.
What was the feeling like after the game in Blantyre?
Well, nobody was happy, the chief coach talked to the players and also made them to realize where things went wrong in the match; and they have all resolved that this Saturday’s game is not going to be the same. Remember that we played a draw in the first leg in Kigali and now that the second leg is holding here, we just have to do our best to make sure that we win the match.
But with the way the Super Eagles have handled their two recent qualifying games,do you think they can handle the pressure when they face Rwanda on Saturday?
Why not? We should not write the team off because they could not win the away match in Blantyre. We should all believe in the team, support the players and also encourage them so that they can do better . We need the Rwanda match and we have made the players to realize that fact. So I don’t think they will want to approach that match without a target to win and win convincingly.
Realistically sir, how would you rate the performance of the Malawians in the match?
Honestly, they did well and that confirmed what the chief coach has been saying all these while that there are no weak teams in football again. That was exactly what we saw in Blantyre last Saturday. We were leading with one or two minutes to the end and we saw how they came back to draw the match.
That alone will tell you that football has changed in Africa and beyond. The fact that they were able to bounce back and picked a point from a losing position will also serve as a big lesson to our players. So, we have really learnt a lot from that game and necessary corrections will be made.
Can you tell us the efforts the coaches have made to correct some of the mistakes the players made in the away game?
Well, we came back to the country and went straight to the camp to continue our preparation for the Saturday’s game. And I can tell you that both the players and the coaches are working as one family and we are very focused ahead of that game. I may not be able to tell you what we have done since we arrived from Blantyre, but I can tell you that we are working really hard towards the game. The players also know how important the match is and they are ready to give their best.
Can you tell us what the spirit in camp is like at the moment?
The spirit is high and we are all looking forward to the game on Saturday. All the players are working really hard to make sure that we have a good game against Rwanda and that is the spirit in camp.
What are your expectations from the Rwandese who will come to Nigeria with the sole aim of causing an upset in the match?
Yes, it is normal for any team to show ambition. But we know what we want in the match and we are going to work really hard to make sure that we get a good match and a commendable result in the encounter. It is not going to be an easy match, but we are well prepared for it, and we will make sure that Nigerians are not disappointed after the match.
Personally, are you under any pressure after the results of the two games played so far?
No. What is on ground now is a situation whereby we need to reflect on the past matches and come up with a better strategy that can give us a better result. If we begin to talk about pressure now, it means we will not have time to prepare for the game we have on Saturday. We want to approach the next game with a positive mind and we are not going to allow anything to distract our focus. Rwanda is not a team that we cannot beat. All we need is for the players to have stable mind and believe that they can do it.
Who among the players really impressed you most in the team?
I don’t talk about individual players, we have a team and when I talk, I talk about the whole team and the happenings around the team. The players are like one family and what we are all working towards is to see the team beat Rwanda on Saturday; simple. If I begin to talk about any individual player, then, what do you think will happen to the other players? We are working as a team and we are well determined to make the nation proud in the next game.
The team will only train for three days in Calabar before the match against Rwanda. Don’t you think the period is too short for that purpose?
No. I don’t think so because we have been training in Abuja and we were in Calabar throughout last week. So, I can tell you that the players will not have any problem playing against Rwanda on Saturday. Calabar is now like a home for us and we are not thinking of any problem at all other than for our players to go out there and give their best.
Coach, will Enyeama still be considered for the number one position after the mistake he made last Saturday in Blantyre?
Well, Enyeama is a member of the team, and I cannot say for now who and who will play the next match. The chief coach is in a better position to answer that question. But as a team, we are working towards qualifying for the next World Cup and the Nations Cup.
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