Super Eagles star, Babatunde Michael is back on the field of play again after the injury he sustained at the 2014 FIFA World Cup in Brazil. In this interview with JOHNNY EDWARD, the Volyn star says he is ready to help his club secure a Europa League slot. He also assures that Nigeria will be at the 2015 AFCON In Morocco.
How do you feel playing football again after being out due to injury for three month?
I feel great and I’m happy to be back on the pitch again after the World Cup. It wasn’t easy in the first few minutes but after sometime, I got myself back and I was able to give my best. I give God the glory, now I’m focused on regaining full match fitness and I hope to be better than what I was before. I have my coaches, my teammates and the Nigerian Football Federation to thank for speedy recovery.
How did you feel when you were told that you won’t be able to continue with the World Cup after the injury?
I was disappointed that a shot could break my wrist, because I was already playing with full confidence. I knew I would do well but the injury was a kill joy. But I’m happy I made it to Brazil and gave a good account of myself even if it was in two games. The next thing for me now is to get to that level, so I hope I can just stay injury free this season and give my best to my club and country.
You did your best at the World Cup and you were praised by Nigerians for the effort, as a player, how did you feel and what has it added to you?
I always say that praises can have negative effect. But in this case, and after the World Cup, I want to keep on improving and also show the desire to do better. Nobody believed in me prior to the World Cup, I just kept working hard to prove what I could do and I am happy that compliments followed it.
You started your career as a winger but you played behind strikers at the World Cup. Was it a position you had played before the Mundial or Stephen Keshi psyched you up for that role?
I play as a No.10 for Volyn and as a winger as well. But coach Keshi also played a big role in me playing the way I played that role at the World Cup. I like to play fast paced football and use my energy a bit more, rather than being nailed on as a winger or midfielder. I like to move forward as well as back. Hopefully, I’ll get that role and a chance to show everyone what I can do.
You were linked with a move to various teams in Europe and Asia but you ignored that, could you tell us why you didn’t move?
My injury was a huge setback and no team matched the valuation of Volyn.
Your next game is against Dynamo Kiev away. How do you fancy your team’s chances in that encounter?
It’s going to be a tough game because the best result we have got there since 2003 was a draw. I hope we get to win there for the first time in a decade and also to brighten our chances of finishing in the highest position ever on the log. I’m looking forward to that game on Monday.
The Eagles are currently struggling to qualify for the Nations Cup next year in Morocco. Do you think Nigeria can defend the title she won in South Africa?
We had a very poor start, but we will get stronger as the group progresses. We were unfortunate to have lost at home to Congo but I’m optimistic that we have the sprit to overcome this difficult circumstances. The chances are still bright and I’m confident. We have very good players to make the difference. Whatever the case, our stated goal is to finish in the top two to qualify for the next edition of the African Nations Cup which is very important to the country.
Is there anything about the Sudanese team that gets you scaring?
We’ll have to study their strengths and weaknesses, but in principle we’ll stick with our style of play which is one that worked well for us. We have to try and be in good form ourselves, iron out our flaws and improve our strong points by winning both ties in October. Surely, the Eagles don’t have many flaws. After all, we haven’t lost at home in last 33 years and Congo ended it.
What are your expectations for the new season?
I just need to work harder than I have ever done to justify my place in the team. I have a lot to prove to the club fans and Nigerians. Already, the coaches know what I can do and that is why I was not allowed to move during the transfer window. I also pray we secure a Europa League spot this season. That will be a massive achievement for
Where do you see yourself in five years?
It’s difficult to say. I try to look at things day-by-day and work hard in training to improve. I hope to be playing at a big club and I want to be for a long time.
Thanks for your time Baba.