Mountain of Fires and Miracles FC striker Stephen Odey was in the Super Eagles team that played two friendlies against Corsica and Togo on May 26 and June 1 but was dropped for Saturday's 2019 Africa Cup of Nations qualifier against Bafana Bafana of South Africa. The Nigeria Professional Football League top scorer with 14 goals opens up to Completesportsnigeria.com's IZUCHUKWU OKOSI in this exclusive interview on his thoughts on the game at the Godswill Akpabio Stadium and the positives he picked from being in the national team…
What were the positives you took from being in the Super Eagles camp in France?
I learned a lot from the players in camp. I believe I picked one or two tricks that will help my game generally especially the quality of my passes, ball control and even my shooting techniques.
Having trained with this set of players and played two friendlies with them, what are the things you noted in camp and on matchdays in those friendlies you think have been great and what are the things you think need to be worked on?
There was unity and there was nothing like 'big boy' or 'big boss' in camp. The players are quite young which is a good thing. This means that all of us can play in at least three or four major tournaments in the future. You are the leading scorer in the Nigeria Professional Football league with 14 goals.
Would it have put you under pressure to perform if you had made the squad for the qualifier against South Africa?
Definitely I would have been under pressure to deliver because of my fans and loved ones who would be expecting so much from me. And that will be in a competitive game, not friendly or practice match. That is not to say I would not have given it my best shot. There are many more matches to play in the national team so eventually it will happen by the grace of God. That is the prayer of every player: to be invited to his national team.
Nigeria have never lost to South Africa in competitive match apart from a friendly match in the Nelson Mandela Challenge in 2004. So which country, Nigeria or South Africa, do you feel will be more desperate to win this game: Nigeria who are hoping to avoid a third straight absence at the AFCON or South Africa whose ego has been bruised over the years?
I think Nigeria will be more under pressure because we have never lost against South Africa in a major or competitive match. So that means every player will need to up his game. And more importantly it will be terrible to miss a third African Cup of Nations. That (motivation to be in Cameroon 2019) is enough pressure but it is one pressure we must deal with.
How do you think the game will pan out?
I am predicting that we (Nigeria) will win the game 2-0. The goals can come from anybody. What matters most is that we win in Uyo.
What is your biggest fear as a footballer: Losing your place in a team or your team losing a match?
To be honest, losing my place in a team scares me more. Football is an individual game so there are 11 players on the field and others that come in from the bench. I will contribute my quota and another player will do his bit. I will not like to lose my position to another player. I will like to fight on the pitch for my position.
Talking about your club, MFM, what are your expectations from the current season?
We want to lift the Nigeria Professional Football League title or at least qualify for any of the CAF club competitions. We must get a continental ticket at the end of the season. You have not increased your goal tally and some other strikers are giving you a hot chase for the top scorer prize.
How many more goals are you targeting for the season?
As many goals as I can score. Before the end of the season I hope I can reach the 20-goal mark. I'm not the only striker that wants to be the top scorer but I'll always do my best for MFM.
Growing up, which striker did you look up to and want to model your game after?
Brazil's Ronaldo De Lima. He was phenomenal. However since he no longer plays football, I love Luis Suarez presently. He is a great finisher, one of the world's best strikers. You feel your trials at Midtyjlland affected your club somewhat and perhaps why you are not on top of the table? Maybe it did, I don't know. Aside from me, there are good players in the team. I think the team coped without me.