UTAKA: EAGLES ‘LL SOON GET IT RIGHT
Posted: Jun 07, 2012
Super Eagles striker, John Utaka, says in this interview that the current national team players have what it takes to qualify Nigeria for the 2014 FIFA World Cup. He spoke with BAMIDELE BOLUWAJI
How do you feel playing your first game for the Super Eagles after a long while?
I feel great and happy to return to the national team. I am a Nigerian and it is my dream all the time to play for my country. So, I am happy to be back.
What do you think was responsible for your neglect when Coach Samson Siasia was in charge of the national team?
I don’t know and nobody told me anything. But the only thing I heard which was not from the coach was that they were rebuilding the national team which was okay. But we still need experience to do that successfully. But all that are over now while we are looking forward to what we all can contribute now to make the team stronger.
But, if we are talking about rebuilding, do you think the old players are still relevant to the process?
That depends on what the coach wants but money can not buy experience and that is why some countries don’t want to do away with their World Cup players even when they are old. So, I think the experienced players still have a lot to offer the national team.
The Super Eagles managed to beat Namibia 1-0 on Sunday, do you think such performance can earn Nigeria a World Cup ticket?
Well, it may not be the best many had expected from the match but what I want you to know is that we went into the match with the hope of winning with lots of goals because we discussed it before the match. But it did not come as we expected. I am sure that we are going to do better in the next game.
That is one game we need to win and we are going to do our best to win it.
The team struggled to win that match by a lone goal, are you sure a team that could not score many goals at home can win an away match?
No, you need to learn from every game you play and if you can do that which we are already doing.
Then, winning away match will be possible though it is going to be tough. But I think we have a team that can do it. The coaches are also doing their best to make sure that the players are in high spirit to win the match. We are not also going to see them as a team that can be underrated. We are going to play them with everything we can offer.
What would you say was responsible for the so many chances the team missed against Namibia?
Well, I would not say anything or anybody was responsible for it. We were just not lucky to convert those chances but when the time came, we all saw how the goal came. It is normal in football. There are times you want to score so many goals and they will not come, but when it eventually comes, everybody will celebrate it.
With the way the team has started the 2014 World Cup qualifying matches,do you think you can make it to the tournament final in Brazil?
One thing I want you to understand is that we have just played our first match as a team and gradually, we will understand one another and from there, we will start scoring many goals which Nigerians want to see. I also want to appeal to Nigerians to be patient with the team because it is our dream to also play at the next World Cup and the only way that can be possible is for everybody to contribute positively.
Were you under pressure to deliver when you were called to start against Namibia?
No, this is not my first time of playing for the Super Eagles and the fact that I have not played some games does not mean that I will be under pressure to play. I have been there before and I will always give my best.
You helped your team Montpellier to win the French League last season. What are you looking forward to in the new season?
I am looking forward to a better performance next season because we had it rough last season but at the end, we were able to win. We are going to play in the UEFA Champions League, so we should expect something better. The management will also bring in some players to beef up the team just like other teams in the League.
Finally, what do you think you can offer the team?
The best that will be good enough is to qualify Nigeria for the World Cup and the Nations Cup.
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