He is one of the most polarizing figures in the present Super Eagles squad, but the 25-year-old, 6.4 foot central defender continues to show his qualities. He has been a regular Super Eagle since 2012, and has attended every major competition Nigeria’s senior men’s football team have attended since then – the 2013 Africa Cup of Nations; the 2013 FIFA Confederations Cup and the 2014 FIFA World Cup. Even though his inclusion continues to raise eyebrows in several quarters he is determined to keep working hard and keep proving his doubters wrong. In this interview, Azubuike Egwuekwe speaks to SL10.ng on his latest inclusion in the Super Eagles team and so much more. Enjoy.
You are one of the home-based players that have been called to camp for the game against Chad. It shouldn’t be surprising to you but do you feel there’s any difference this time?
Well I don’t think there’s anything different. It’s going to be the same thing I believe. It’s still the same coach, the same national team maybe a few new faces but overall I think it’s the same thing.
So I guess you must have been very excited when Keshi’s contract was renewed
Yes I was. He’s like a father to us all and he treats us equally irrespective of where you play.
There’s no home-based, overseas-based issue in the team, everybody is treated equally. And of course he has given me opportunities. He has shown he believes in the home based players and a lot of have been given opportunities to show our talents which most of us have done, so yes I’m happy.
You’re most likely going to make the final team for the Chad game next month. How easy or how difficult do you think the Chadians will be?
Well I can’t really say because I haven’t seen them play before so I don’t know how good they are. But one thing that I know for sure is that we will not take them for granted. Whether they are good or not, to us we will take it very seriously because we have to win. We want to start the qualifiers on a good note and avoid what happened the last time. We lost our first game at home and that really affected us and we don’t want that to happen again. This time, every game we play in the qualifiers will be like a cup final for us and we will put everything in it to ensure we qualify for the next Africa Cup of Nations.
Your proposed move abroad hit the rocks and you returned back home. What really happened out there?
Let’s just say things did not go according to plan and that was it. It didn’t turn out the way I expected so I had to return home. But that one is gone now, we have to focus on the future.
Your club, Warri Wolves, has a CAF Confederations Cup game this weekend against AC Leopards of Congo in what promises to be a tough duel. How prepared are the Wolves going into this one?
I’d say very prepared. We know the competition would get tougher as we progressed so we have been expecting games like this. Mentally and physically, we are in top shape. The results we have gotten away from home this season has given big confidence and we know we can go away and win or draw at the very least. So I’d say very prepared and the confidence level is quite high.
Thanks for your time, Azubuike