EFE SOUNDS LIBERIA WARNING!
Posted: Jul 06, 2012
Super Eagles Defender Caustions West African Neighbours Won’t Be Easy To Break
Barely a few minutes after the draws for the next round of qualifiers for the 2013 African Cup of Nations in South Africa pitched the Super Eagles against Liberia, Israeli based Eagles defender, Ambrose Efe tells Complete Sports Saturday, DAVID MESHIOYE that there is no easy opposition any longer in Africa football...
N igeria will have to surmount the task of defeating Liberia to pick a ticket to 2013 Africa Cup of Nations in South Africa. Would you say Nigeria had an easy draw?
Well, I don’t want to tilt toward the school of thought which feels Liberia is no match for Super Eagles in the final lap of AFCON 2013 qualifiers. The last tournament result is there for all to see; Zambia coming from nowhere to beat Cote d’Ivoire in the final of the Nations Cup. We have played against Rwanda, Namibia and Malawi, we know how tough these teams are, and it shows that football in Africa has really developed. As for Liberia, I will say it’s a good draw but they won’t be that easy to break. The belief among African teams now is no team is unbeatable. Liberia will come out fighting but I believe our hard work and dedication will be enough to see them off and qualify us for the Nations Cup. It was painful to have missed the last edition but we want to correct that wrong and beat Liberia to pick the ticket.
Does your frequent invitations to the national team help to ease the pain of placing 7th with Ashdod FC last season?
Getting a constant call-up to the national team has made it easier for me to accept in a way because we know that playing for your national team gives you a form of fulfillment. I really have to thank oach Stephen Keshi for giving me the opportunity to serve my country. The national team jersey matters a lot to me and it brings out the best in me each time I wear it. However, the desire to win a trophy with Ashdod FC never wanes. I can assure you that everyone at Ashdod will be very unhappy if we fail to win a trophy next season. The same goes for any competition we enter.
So Ashdod FC still has the high expectation of winning the Israeli league next season, despite the rebuilding process that has gone on within the squad, not forgetting the ever intimidating presence of Maccabi Haifa and Hapoel Tel Aviv?
Yes, our expectations have not gone down at all because of the rebuilding and the fact that we came 7th last season. Our goals are exactly the same – to win the Israeli League and to qualify to play in the Champions League play-offs. We genuinely believe our fans will have many reasons to be happy next season and it is our intention to make that happen. Ashdod FC is a great side and the club management has great ambition for the club. With hard work and self belief, we can shrug off threats coming from Hapoel Tel Aviv and Maccabi Haifa, they are great clubs but you still have to beat the best teams to become champions and we will be ready for them next season.
How are the players feeling as you prepare for the coming season?
Well, not one of us at Ashdod FC is thinking about last season’s position in the league anymore. It is time to look forward and I am concentrating fully on the new season that lies ahead. I’m only thinking about how we can become the best team in Israel and once again return to European football competitions. I believe that is something we are more than capable of achieving in 2012/2013 season
Losing Captain Joseph Yobo on the eve of Super Eagles last three games must have been felt strongly in the dressing room, yet you guys filled up the vacuum effectively. How well are you looking forward to having him back in September?
It is true that we look up to Joseph Yobo for his leadership role and wealth of experience, we cannot deny that. However, this Super Eagles squad really has enormous potential because we have so many talented youngsters who really showed that the future of the national team is bright and they showed it in those three games. The young lads from the home front are improving all the time. The country will continue to aspire to all the biggest goals no matter who plays and who doesn’t. We will qualify for the Nations Cup and World Cup in grand style with God on our side. The coaching crew has been discovering players in the local league and the impact of the home lads in the team means that there is more than enough material for every position. Besides, this is keeping everyone on their toes while competition for jersey is on. It will be great to have Yobo back in September.
Azubuike Egwueke and Godfrey Oboabona are under pressure to fill the gap once Yobo is not playing. Are they capable of doing that?
No one expects Azubuike and Godfrey to take on Yobo’s role in the team but these two defenders have many qualities of their own that helped us in our last three games. I believe they will become important members of our team over the coming years as they have been now. This shows that talents abound in the Nigerian league. With Yobo returning to full time action, it would only mean additional options for the coach to pick from.
And what impact can Victor Moses have in a Super Eagles shirt?
Moses has proven his quality through the last three games, so I don’t see any reason why he shouldn’t be successful. He can help us a lot, so we are all very happy to have him in our team especially now that he has settled down well with the players and the coaching crew. He is an important member of the Super Eagles and I think he made the right choice to have opted to play for Nigeria. Super Eagles have always had fantastic forwards and certainly we have such a situation in the current team as well.
No matter who plays, I’m sure we will be lethal in front of goal. I believe Moses and John Utaka will make our team better. They are very good players who will help us improve.
What is it like having to mark Victor Moses in training?
As a defender, I can say with some certainty that it is really tough to mark Moses. He’s dangerous from all positions so you always need to be focused and on your toes. He has helped me to improve too and showed what to expect from attackers from the wings. I’m sure Nigerians will soon realize that as well and see the best of him. I am pleased to be on his team.
Of all the strikers you have played with in your entire career, which has been the best?
It’s tough to pick out one name when it comes to World’s best strikers that I have played against but if I could pick one, I will select Lionel Messi. This guy is just out of this world because no matter how hard I worked to stop him at the Olympics final, he still managed to produce a pass to Angel Di Maria for the only goal of the match.
Many people have begun to compare you with legendary Cafu with the way you convert defence to attack. How does that feel?
I’m not bothering myself with comparisons between myself and Cafu but it’s nice to hear such things.
It feels good being compared to a player of such high calibre. But if there is one player I am trying hard to imitate now; it is coach Stephen Keshi. He was a giant in his playing days and a player I have a lot of respect for, but I’ll try to make my own mark and keep improving.
How do you cope living in Israel? What do you do in your spare-time?
Well, I’m not a Jewish boy! However, I have grown accustomed to the lifestyle here in Israel and I’m enjoying myself in Ashdod. I always try to give my best. I love Nigerian food because I can never forget my root. I really don’t have much free time in Ashdod. On few rare occasions the club gives us free days and we usually spend that time with our friends. More or less, I spend all my free time indoors and sometimes with my friends. Most times people come to visit me, but that’s about it. I try to live a decent life. I don’t go to extravagant places and I don’t expose myself too much. My life is really very normal: training-restaurant-home!
Thank you Efetobore
My pleasure always!
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