Super Eagles and Werder Bremen striker Anthony Ujah is relishing the chance to prove he is one of Africa's finest stars in the German Bundesliga in the 2015/2016 season which kicks off on Friday, August 14.
The former Cologne star speaks exclusively to Completesportsnigeria.com's IZUCHUKWU OKOSI on his objectives for the new season and also his desire to play regularly for the Super Eagles under new coach Sunday Oliseh. Excerpts…
Tony, it has been a wonderful pre-season for you, scoring goals for Weder Bremen. Does that put you under pressure to also impress with goals when the 2015/16 kicks off this weekend, first with a game against Schalke 04?
I don't feel under pressure to deliver in the 2015/2016 season because, as they say, 'practice makes perfect'. So I'm working hard to be a better player. I'm positive about the new season.
One of your pre-season goals was against Europa League winners, Sevilla in which you played for 45 minutes. Was that your toughest pre-season game or another?
No, Sevilla was not my toughest pre-season match. The game against West Ham United was more difficult because they were one week away from starting the Premier League while Sevilla were still two weeks behind theirs (The Spanish La Liga starts August 23).
You moved from Cologne to Weder Bremen this summer. What is your objective for this season?
My objective is to find my place in the first team of Weder Bremen and be important for my team's campaign because I spent three years in Cologne and now it's something completely new for me. But by God's grace, I will excel.
What's your goals target this season in the Bundesliga? Is there a goal mark you want to reach this season?
(Laughter) Well, I can't say for sure.I will score this or that number of goals. but I'm just hoping that my goals helps my team to be successful. I want to be better than last season, score more goals and be technically better.
You scored your first official goal for Weder Bremen on Saturday in the first round of the DFB Pokal against Wurzburger Kickers which your team won 2-0. Can you describe your goal for our fans who may not have seen the strike?
My goal on Saturday was a low shot in the box. The ball went through the goalkeeper's legs. However, my first goal against West Ham United, a shot from outside their box, was my best goal of the pre-season friendlies.
Would you say moving to Weder Bremen, a supposedly bigger club than Cologne enhances your Super Eagles chances under Sunday Oliseh?
The move from Cologne does not guarantee me automatic shirt in the Super Eagles. I have to keep working hard. I have to perform and show the new coach that I have a place in his team and by the grace of God, I'm on the right way.
Former Super Eagles coach, Stephen Keshi, didn't give you much opportunity in the Eagles. What would you attribute to the few games you played under him?
Keshi was the coach of the national team and he determined who got invited for games. I was in the Confederations Cup in 2013 though it was painful missing the World Cup the following year. You said few games, yeah but I played against Uganda after the World Cup.
How confident are you that the Super Eagles will be successful with Sunday Oliseh in charge?
I have not worked with him before, but he was a good servant to Nigeria as a national team player. Now he is a coach. He will be successful if we do our best as players, listen to his instructions and deliver in games. He also needs the support of other key stakeholders in the game, apart from the players.
Oliseh played for Cologne and Borrusia Dortmund aside spells in Italy, Holland and Belgium. Do you think his coaching philosophy could be tailored towards the German style of football?
I don't know, I guess we have to wait and see. I can't really say. He also played in other big leagues across the world.
The Super Eagles have started the 2017 AFCON qualifiers on a bright note. But what can the team do to avoid any upsets from the likes of Tanzania and Chad?
Simply winning our games, be committed and not take our opponents lightly. There are no minnows in football these days. We should be wary of teams like Tanzania, not just Egypt.
What's your early season prediction in the Bundesliga? Total domination by Bayern Munich again or perhaps surprises from other teams await them?
Its too early to say. I just want to help my team win games. I do not want to bother myself with what is happening at other clubs. It's one game at a time for me.
Finally, the U23 Eagles qualified for the CAF U23 Championship which serves as qualifiers to the 2016 Olympics. What's your message to Samson Siasia and his team?
I just want to wish them good luck in the Championship. We have to qualify for the Olympics after the disappointment of 2012.