Rotimi: My Champions League Experience Will Help Rivers United

Rotimi: My Champions League Experience Will Help Rivers United

Rivers United's veteran goalkeeper, Sunday Rotimi, speaks to Completesportsnigeria.com's JOHNNY EDWARD about the club's progress so far in the new NPFL season and readiness for their CAF Champions League opener against Malian side, AS Real, in Bamako on Friday, February 10. The  Nigerian League legend with over 17 years of top flight action for six clubs; Plateau United, Enyimba, El-Kanemi Warriors, Sunshine Stars FC, Dolphins FC and Rivers United, also reflects on his limited opportunities at the national team. 
Excerpts…
 

You were on the bench as your team lost 2-1 away to Shooting Stars Sports Club. Were you impressed with your team-mates’ performance?

Actually, I was impressed. It’s just unfortunate and a little bit of hard luck that we lost the game. I think we gave a good account of ourselves.  Unfortunately, we couldn’t get any point, but we are working towards the next game which is our continental game against AS Real Bamako, and as you know, some of the key players were not in action against 3SC, but I believe they were rested for the continental match which is very important also. We lost to 3SC and we take it with good faith, we’ll go back and correct our mistakes.

What’s your impression about the league so far, after the six games of Rivers United? 

So far so good, there’s a very big improvement in the league, and as you can see, we (Rivers United) are not doing badly and I believe that the league is open and Rivers United are one of the contenders and we are working towards that. I believe we are going to get there towards the end of the league. I’m happy with what I have achieved in the NPFL and hope to keep performing well.

Your next game is the CAF Champions League first leg away from home. How prepared are Rivers United for this game?

We know the importance of the continentals and we are going there first. It’s good one for us, we have an advantage and we are going to work towards that advantage to make sure that we come back with a good result. The Malians are a good side as well, they defeated Nianan 2-0 in their opening league game. We have to get a good result to enhance our chances going into the second leg.

Rivers United have struggled in recent games, both at home and away. don’t you think this might affect their chances in the CAF Champions League?

Some of us in the team are experienced enough to lead the team, and personally, I believe that we will not disappoint. I have featured in this competition in the past with my previous teams and I will bring that to bare when we play AS Real in Bamako.

With the arrival of Femi Thomas and Ayobami who is the third choice now, what is the competition like with these shot-stoppers around you?

Actually, there is a very big competition I must admit, but I believe that as a veteran, I show my class. We are working together to make sure that things go well. Thomas is a good goalkeeper just as Ayobami, but for me, the most important thing is to be prepared and leave the rest to the coach to pick whoever he wants to play any particular game.

You have only two international caps for Nigeria; against Jamaica and Ireland. Do you ever nurse any regret not representing Nigeria well enough like your contemporaries did?

That’s a tough one. but everybody would have loved to play for Nigeria many times, but I’m happy with the part I played. Maybe I was not just in the plans of the coaches at that time. But that’s in the past now. I’m happy with the achievements so far in my career and I will continue until I cannot dive well again.

How impressed are you with the the current crop of goalkeepers in the national team;  Emmanuel Daniel, Ikechukwu Ezenwa, Daniel Akpeyi, Carl Ikeme and Dele Alampasu?

Yes. They are quality goalkeepers, but for me, I think the other goalkeepers;  Emmanuel Daniel, Ikechukwu Ezenwa, Daniel Akpeyi and Dele Alampasu should be given a chance, but you know, it’s very difficult to change goalkeepers in every game like some coaches do with outfield players.

Just tell us a bit about yourself…

Rotimi Sunday is married with five kids. I relax quite well with my family, but unfortunately when I work they are not around. I do relax alone sometimes, but when I get to my residence in Jos, I relax with them. I don’t engage myself with any other thing apart from my family.

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