Completesportsnigeria.com's JOHNNY EDWARD gets Super Eagles of Nigeria defender Kenneth Omeruo talking about his plans and ambition ahead of the new football season in Europe. The Chelsea defender who has featured for ADO Den Haag, Middlesbrough, Kasimpasa and Alanyaspor on loan also expresses firm confidence that Nigeria will bounce back from their shock home defeat to South Africa in a 2019 Africa Cup of Nations qualifying match in Uyo. Exerpts…
Preparations for the new season will begin in July at various clubs, what are your plans for new campaign, and ahead of the World Cup qualifiers?
I will be rejoining Chelsea for pre-season and there everything will be much clearer if I will be going out on loan again or staying at the club to be actively involved. I just want to play more games as much as I can and stay fully fit to represent my club and country.
I have always had that dream to play football at the highest level, and when the opportunity came for me to join Chelsea I didn't hesitate.
But since I joined the club, I have played on loan and each team I joined always wanted me to stay on at the club. But it has been a good experience for me and I just want to build on them this coming season. As regards my future, no decision has been made yet.
You were dropped from the Super Eagles starting lineup in the match against South Africa in Uyo which Nigeria lost 2-0. It was the Super Eagles'firstloss to Bafana in a ccompetitive match. What really went wrong?
It was an unexpected defeat, but it won't derail our dreams of qualifying for the AFCON. We had a new set of players playing for the first time and that affected the team in a way, but I believe as a team, we have learnt from that defeat and will bounce back to qualify for the 2019 AFCFON in Cameroon.
We have five games left to play. Anything can still happen. All we need to do is to get wins in our remaining games which is possible though tough.
I wasn't that disappointed that I was dropped from the starting lineup. It's the coach's decision. We win as a team just as we lose as a team.
Those players who started the game got total support from the ones watching on the bench, so the bond will get better and we will bounce back again. The new players have to adapt to a new style of football with the Eagles, which isn’t easy.
Sometimes you struggle a bit, but for me, I’m confident we will bounce back. My commitment and loyalty has been there on and off the pitch from day-one – that’s why I was not disappointed.
But how would you rate the new boys in the Eagles now?
They are great players who need time to blend well with the experienced ones. The competition will be tougher but it will be for the good of the team and Nigeria having so many options.
You face Cameroon in another crucial World Cup qualifier in August.They seem to be in a better shape than the Eagles right now. What you you think?
I disagree. We are equally good too. It's going to be an important game for us. We know this and we have learnt from that defeat to South Africa. With some friendlies lined up and the other players returning, we will have a great squad to select match lineup from.
You have played in three different leagues in Europe; Belgium, England, Holland, and in Turkey. What is the difference compared to the Nigeria Professional Football League where you started your career?
A lot of difference, even among those leagues. But it's a great step for me and I'm happy with the progression.
Any preference for the league you would love to play in this season if you were to be sent out on loan again by Chelsea?
Playing in the English Premier League will be great, but it will be down to the kind of offers I get.
Who was the toughest attacker you have faced?
Emmanuel Emenike was physically the hardest. I played against him last season and we both wanted to prove a point (Laughs). It was fun. He still has it within him.
Robin Van Persie and some other forwards were tough as well. But I deal with attackers differently. I play my own game against everyone.
Many believe your partnership with Godfrey Oboabona remains the best for the Eagles. What was it like when you played with him?
Oboabona is very matured. He is a very strong character. I have very happy memories of playing with him. I wish he gets his chance angain too. It’s almost unfair to be comparing teammates, but everyone have their qualities.
Your greatest influence in your career?
That has to be my mum. She helped me a lot.