–Keshi’s ‘China Product’ Replies Nigerians on his sojourn in the Asian country.
He was highly vilified by Nigerian Soccer fans as well as the media after he was handed an invitation into the Super Eagles squad for the AFCON qualifier against Sudan.
But Aaron Olanare Samuel surprisingly grabbed the headline when he restored the Super Eagles lead against Sudan in Abuja. The China based former Shooting Star forward takes you through his soccer life…
How would you describe your Super Eagles debut?
It was a great experience for me, I mean playing alongside some of Nigeria’s best players. That has been my age long desire; playing for Super Eagles is a dream come true for me. I expected the opportunity long ago and I was glad when Coach Stephen Keshi placed me on standby in one of the World Cup qualifiers. I never had the chance to break into the team but today that dream is coming to pass before my eyes. It has been a great experience for me because it is not that easy to break into the team. Super Eagles is made up of top players and I will regard myself lucky to have made the team for both legs against Sudan.
Your debut came in Khartoum; a time when Nigeria needed to score to pick a draw. Did that put you under any pressure compared to what Nigerians saw in Abuja?
Not really. I won’t say I was playing under any pressure, but the truth of the matter was that we needed to get a goal at all costs and in such situation you will be forced to throw in everything within you to ensure the team doesn’t lose. Such situation cannot really bring out the best in oneself. I will say it was a tougher game compared to the way we played in Abuja, which we eventually won. It was a different feeling in Abuja because I was able to settle down and play better football. Nigerians are yet to see my best. Better days are still ahead.
How were you received, more so with news making the rounds that some Super Eagles players do not really welcome new players into the side, especially if such is not ready to dance to their tunes?
All the players were very nice to me. I had no issue with anybody when I came in the senior national team because I know what it takes to play alongside the big boys. I was welcomed into the team with open arms and that really helped me to settle down well enough. As you can see, it really showed when we played in Abuja; it was easy to blend with them . More importantly, I was ready to work hard for the team and not just for myself. It was a great feeling for me and I hope I keep enjoying that under the new manager.
Questions were asked when Stephen Keshi invited a player from the Chinese League when the likes of IK Uche and Obafemi Martins are still being ignored. Would you say your performance against Sudan has justified your inclusion?
Honestly, I have been seeking for that opportunity to show Nigerians what I can do with the ball but there is no way you can prove that if you re not invited by the manager. I was playing for Sarpsborg 08 In Norway when I was invited as standby even though I never got that chance to break into the team. I had European experience before heading to China. It is just that we all have our reasons for every decision we take in our life and same thing applies to me too. Where I play now does not really matter as long as I can deliver the goals; that is what really matters.
Why the choice of China and not tougher leagues like France, Germany etc?
I had been playing in Europe for two years before I made up my mind to move on to China. I left Shooting Stars for Valerenga; same club Fegor Ogude played for in 2012. I stayed there for a year before joining Sarpsborg 08 in the 2013/2014 season but honestly nothing came out of these places, it was then I decided to join Guangzhou R&F in the Chinese Super League. I think football can be played anywhere, once you are good enough.
When you said nothing, are you referring to money issues?
There are lots of club out there seeking my signature but they are not willing to pay me the right amount of money. These Europeans are living on the ground that it’s Europe so they expect you to sign for their clubs, even when they offer you peanuts but I am not going to fall for that. None of the interested clubs in Europe can afford what I am getting in China. I am not ruling out a possible return to Europe soon, but I just want to concentrate on my game here in China.
But how much do you fancy your chances under Amodu Shuaib who has come out to say it loud and clear that he will only invite top players from Europe?
The last two games I played speaks volumes about my game. I’m ripe for Super Eagles and I am ready to fight for shirts in the team if I’m invited. I may be playing in China, but I know what I can do if given the opportunity by coach Shuaib Amodu.
Do you see Nigeria qualifying for AFCON 2015 in Morocco?
Impossible is nothing! We can still make it to AFCON if we can get it right in Congo. Congo’s game is must win if we really want to qualify honestly. We the players know we just have to deliver in our last two games to stand a chance of qualifying. Once we can defeat Congo then we will shed our blood to beat South Africa here at home. Nigerians should not write off Super Eagles. I know the game in Congo will be played on Astro turf too but we are ready to do everything to pick three points in Congo. It won’t be easy but it is possible.
Scoring one goal in two matches is a sign of great things to come. I want to give more to the national team. I had a great experience under coach Stephen Keshi and I will always remember him for believing in me. I am ready to give my best under coach Amodu if I am given the chance. Nigerians should believe in Super Eagles; we thrive in difficult situations and I strongly believe we will deliver AFCON 2015 ticket by God’s grace.