UJAH: EAGLES NEED COMMITMENT TO QUALIFY
Posted: Jul 11, 2012
Mainz of Germany star, Anthony Ujah, believes that the Super Eagles will make it to the 2013 Africa Nations Cup in South Africa if the right mentality is applied. He spoke with IZUCHUKWU OKOSI
How has your pre-season been?
The pre-season is going on fine for me. We have played three matches so far, and I’ve scored five goals while playing for just 45 minutes in each of those games.
I’ve also had two assists and I’m hoping to build on my confidence more and be ready for the new season.
What are your expectations from the 2012/13 season, both individually and as a team?
My personal expectations are to play more games for my club and contribute to the team’s success. I believe if I work hard and with God’s favour, it will turn out fine.
As a team, our target is to end up in the upper half of the Bundesliga table by the end of the season; unlike the previous season where we struggled to survive.
You didn’t play so many games for Mainz last season. What would you say accounted for that and how did it affect your morale?
I felt bad sometimes because I felt that I can help the team but in the end, it’s the coach that decides and I’m a patient person who also never lost the belief in myself no matter the circumstance.
During the ongoing summer transfer, many players are expected to move to new clubs. Which clubs have confirmed or rumoured to be interested in you?
I had offers from many clubs, but I’m not pushing for any move for now. Mainz has invested many players in me and I want to pay the club back for the faith they had in me and by the grace of God,it will come good in the end.
Would you say your time in Norway was better than in the German Bundesliga?
I had a great time in Norway and want to make another step forward. That’s why I’m here and my aim is to do better than I did in Norway.
How would you rate the overall standard of play and officiating in Germany?
It has been okay, but there can still be improvement.
And how did the Germans react to FIFA’s endorsement of the use of goal-line technology?
The Germans were happy about the FIFA goal-line technology although there has not been many goal-mouth controversies in the Bundesliga as we have seen in the English Premier League and in some international competitions.
The Super Eagles will play Liberia in the last round of qualifiers for the 2013 Africa Cup of Nations. How do you think Nigeria can get past them?
A lot has been said in the past prior to Super Eagles games but in the end, the coach has his plans and as Nigerians, all we owe them is our prayers. It doesn’t matter what team we are up against, we have seen so many surprises in the past.
More home-based players are getting a look-in these days in the Super Eagles. Is that a source of worry for players plying their trades abroad?
I don’t think home-based players are source of worry for the guys abroad. The players in the Nigeria Premier League are also vital in certain games but the coaches decide which games they get involved in. It’s a good thing that the home-based and foreign-based stars are mixed to build a solid team. For example, Azubuike Egwuike from Warri Wolves was a player I played with and I’m glad that his partnership with Joseph Yobo is coming out good.
Cote d’Ivoire will play Senegal in a tough qualifying fixture for the 2013 Nations Cup and with Egypt elimination from the race, don’t you think we will see a Nations Cup that will be lacking in real quality?
It’s unfortunate that one of either Senegal or Cote d’Ivoire will not grace the next year’s Nations Cup, but I think it will still be a good tournament because the likes of Ghana, Tunisia, Nigeria, Cameroon, Zambia and Morocco are likely to be in the finals.
But do you think it will be a huge risk on the part of Stephen Keshi not to parade many foreign-based players in the last round of games against Liberia?
My answer will be: let the best players represent Nigeria based on form and fitness irrespective of where they are playing.
What was the general feeling amongst the Germans after the die Mannshafs lost to Italy in the quarter-finals of Euro 2012?
The Germans felt very bad to lose to Italy, after winning their group games and clearly bookmakers’ favourites to reach the final on July 1st. The general feeling here was that the German team are capable of winning the title.
The country has not won it for many years and the frustration shows in the countenance of some of my teammates.
After the Euros, which player do you think deserves to win the Balon d’or award amongst Lionel Messi, Cristiano Ronaldo, Andreas Iniesta, Xavi Hernandez, Iker Casillas and Andrea Pirlo?
I think Cristiano Ronaldo deserves it this time around considering his performances in the just concluded season and in Euro 2012 after leading Portugal to the semis.
What are the lessons Africa can learn from the Euro 2012?
The Euro 2012 was a competition that had great organisation. The quality of play was highly commendable and the coverage was also wide. I don’t know if the Africa Nations Cup has such wide coverage.
There is a similarity between Holland in Euro 2012 and Senegal in the 2012 Nations Cup. Both countries were tipped as one of the countries to win their respective tournaments but they fell apart in the first round. What do you think other teams should learn from this?
I think we should all learn from that- we should not over-rate or under-rate any team going into tournaments.
Finally, Robin van Persie wants to dump Arsenal for another club where he can win titles as age is no longer on his side- though Gunner fans across the world are criticizing him; now as a player, where do you think he should go?
I think he should go to either Manchester City, Juventus or Barcelona in that order.
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