–Super Eagles and Maccabi Tel Aviv of Israel midfielder insists Nigeria will not give up AFCON battle
As the Super Eagles continue to struggle in their quest to qualify for the Maroc 2015 African Cup of Nations, Israel based midfielder, Nosa Igiebor has equally been battling with his emotions over his horrendous miss against the Red Devils of Congo.
The petite midfielder exudes confidence in this interview that the Super Eagles will not give up on the AFCON battle but shall fight till the very end…
Super Eagles’ games in the AFCON qualifiers have been on a rough path, how far can this team go with Nigeria’s chances of defending her AFCON trophy in the balance?
As you can see, everybody is not happy with the team’s performance and all we need do now is to redeem our image. The results we have churned out so far have come as a form of warning. It means we know what to expect in our subsequent matches. We just have to be ready to fight till the end and ensure we win our remaining games and qualify for Morocco 2015.
Would you say Congo gave Super Eagles the shock of their lives? Were pundits right to say Super Eagles underrated the Congolese Red Devils?
Honestly, we were shocked even though we certainly know African football has really improved tremendously. Football is changing and African teams are playing good football, that is why we just have to be on our toes and show champions stuff. We never underrate the Congolese, we played to win but that is football for you; at times you win and sometimes you can be on the losing side. We really felt so bad after that loss, but we want to move on, take other matches very seriously and ensure we don’t miss out of AFCON 2015.
What a miss it was for you against Congo! Would that go down as one of your biggest and painful misses?
Sincerely, all through the night I was just thinking of it. I could not even close my eyes because no sleep was coming forth. How could I have missed that chance? I kept asking myself how I missed such a glaring chance. I had to forgive myself when I could not find an answer. I must admit that I was not just comfortable with the pitch on that day and that really affected my play all through. I will keep working hard for the team and try as much to cover those lapses. I think I should just blame myself for that miss. I am sure we will get better with time. Super Eagles will redeem its image. We will return to winning ways, all we need is that continuous support from Nigerians.
Looking at the team’s midfield, do you think Super Eagles lack the much needed personnel to excel like they did at the last AFCON?
For me, I think the midfield is balanced by all standards with the likes of Mikel, Onazi and other top players. Besides, these are the guys that played at the Nations Cup in South Africa. They featured at the World Cup and the combination between them is okay. I don’t know if anything happened, but I think these guys are doing their jobs pretty well but they can always improve as time goes by. We all can get better, that is the only thing I can say but with time things will fall into place.
After the game, the fans threw some jabs at Mikel, claiming that he has continued to show why he is Super Eagles weakest link. According to them, he was constantly slowing down the game and strolling on the pitch. What is your take on this?
They should forget about that. This is football you know; someday you are the best on the pitch and another time you might not just play well because it is not your day. For me, looking at it from the player’s perspective, he did well, he gave his best. Yes, he became tired just as everyone towards the end of the match and I think that is normal in football. Listen to me, if you lose, people tend to see your fault and point at you as the cause behind the loss. We lost to Congo yes; the fans have the right to criticize every one of us but Mikel did his best.
How difficult is it to forget losses of that nature as a footballer? We have seen international stars go partying few hours after a huge loss, how do you handle your losses?
To be honest with you; it is not always easy to forget. This is our life and what we live for. It is always difficult to put those losses behind us most especially when it is a competitive game. Coach Stephen Keshi has been talking to us to put the loss behind us and focus on what is ahead. He said the best way to arise from the ashes of a loss is to leave the past behind and look ahead. But that has not been easy though. Besides, our pride is at stake, meaning it’s painful losing as African Champions. It is not what we can put behind us that quickly. We had to talk about it all through the night.
Your coming in against Congo gave the team a push. What really motivates you on the pitch?
Yes, it is because I always want to be a winner whenever I am on the pitch. I want to win every game and coming from the bench with my team 2-1 down at home, I had to give it my best shot. The coach told me to go there and fight, I believed if I started the fight, everybody will join me and that was exactly what happened. I believe we were just unlucky, honestly.
Some of your fans still wondered why you left a more developed Spanish La Liga for Israel. What really prompted that move? Is there anything your fans are not aware of that you might want to share with them about this?
I have said it times without number that it was a personal decision and I don’t even regret it. On my own path, I can confidently say that everything is fine going to the Israeli league. I shall still be going back to Europe but for now I just need a change of environment. I was unlucky while in Spain; I had lots of injuries to battle with and had to go under the knife almost every season. I just felt the best way to get back into full fitness is to get a conducive environment. I needed to relax my legs and play where injuries would be minimal, that was why I went back to Israel.
We know how tough the qualifiers have been but I just want to appeal to Nigeria to believe in the Super Eagles. We will do our best to qualify for AFCON 2015 by the special grace of God. This is the time that we need Nigerians to support us all the more. We will deliver the AFCON ticket by the special grace of God.