Super Eagles defender Azubuike Egwuekwe tells Complete Sports' SAB OSUJI that he's still dazed over failed moves to Europe, says Egypt are Eagles AFCON toughest foes. He also reveals that his wife's prayers inspire him during games….
Next month, June to be specific, the 2017 Nations Cup qulifiers will start. With Egypt, Tanzania and Chad in Super Eagles group, tell me, how do you look forward to the qualifiers?
We didn't qualify for the last Nations Cup so we didn't participate in it. We have learned a lesson from it, though the bitter way. The good thing is that that will shape our disposition going into this qualifiers. We are not going to take it lightly, we'll approach each game with seriousness because any team in Africa at the moment is a good and strong team. We have to take the games one after another and we will try to work hard enough to ensure we got back to Nations Cup finals come 2017.
Chad is indeed our first qualifying group opponents and the game comes up about one month from now. How ready do you think the Super Eagles can be before then?
You can see that for those us still based at home, our season is going on which means the players are in shape. So I believe that we are ready, we don't want to make the same mistake that happened the last time. We will take every game serious and of course, it will be one game at a time.
Which of the teams do you think will give the Super Eagles the toughest challenge in the group?
Every body knows it is Egypt because they are a good team and have won the Cup more than any other team in Africa. But that does not mean we will underrate Tanzania and Chad, no. We will give all the games our best, more than100% and by the grace of God I'mzure we will scale through.
Many teams in Europe made inquiries about you before the current season started. This fuelled speculations you should have been in Europe by now. What went wrong, I mean what's the situation at the moment?
In fact I can only say maybe, its not yet time when God says I should move to Europe. In that case, I believe when the time comes I'll go. I have had a lot of offers in Europe and I've also had a lot of setbacks too. But I leave everything in the hands of God believi g that by His grace, when the right tkme comes I will move.
We heard about you moving to West Ham United in the Barclay’s English Premier League. You were also linked to a move to Hapoel Tel Aviv in Israel and you indeed traveled to both clubs, what really went wrong?
Even as I speak with you, I don't know what went wrong with the West Ham United deal. After my assessment, they called me that they needed me. My assessment was a close thing, after tht Manager Sam Allardyce told me he liked me, that he wants me and wants to work with me. Later, they invited, we negotiated and agreed terms and all of that. But I don't know what later happened along the line. If I call the agent that whats happening and that I'm supposed to be going back to West Ham, he will tell me to wait. And news has continued to spread all over the country about me going to West Ham United yet uptill now I don't know what is happening. So I leave it to God.
What about the Hapoel Tel Aviv deal in Israel?
What happened was that what Hapoel Tel Aviv offered to pay me was not okay for me. Again they wanted me for just four months. I can't travel abroad and sign to play for only four months. For a player like me that type of deal is not good so I told them I can't play for four months. Initially what they told me was to come and play for them for six months loan. I said okay but when I arrived there, they started telling me a different thing. They asked for four months loan instead of six months. They requested for a free loan from Warri Wolves and even came down from what they initially told me they will pay me. You know very well that there is no way Warri Wolves will agree to release a player like me on free loan to a European club. So I told them that if they are not serious they should allow me go back home to my club. That was what happened.
You said there are mny clubs out there in Europe showing interest in you, can you tell me about two or three of such clubs?
Of course I have several offers but I don't what happened before to repeat itself so I want to keep them secret for now.
How is your family right now?
They are okay, I just spoke to my wife and my baby few minutes before this interview.
What are their names?
My baby's name is Chidinma and my wife's name is Isioma Egwuekwe.
So what is the feeling like as regards being a married man?
Of course to be a family man is a thing of joy. At least I can now see where my money is going to. When I'm going out, I remember I have family back home, I have to really take good care of.
And that also inspires you in games?
Yes, any time we're playing at home in Warri they always come to the stadium to cheer me up. And each time I see them round I feel encouraged to give more in the game.
What is it that your wife tells you whenever you are traveling and you call her to inform her of your departure?
She wishes me safe journey and God's guidance and victory in the game.
So how do you appreciate such prayers?
I'm always encouraged.
Thank you for your time and wishing you all the best in your career
Thank you too and God bless.