Super Eagles forward, Gbolahan Salami believes strongly that Nigeria will be at the 2017 African Cup of Nations in Gabon. The Warri Wolves forward who scored Nigeria’s first goal against Chad in Kaduna, told Complete Sports' BAMIDELE BOLUWAJI in this exclusive interview that Egypt does not scare him, saying they will play the Northern Africans with a winning heart.
You are one of the domestic League players who has proved what they can do at club and national level, what is the secret?
I don’t have any secret, than the ability God has given me to work hard and I believe if I don’t show commitment to my profession, there is no way I can make it .So I have got to work hard and believe in myself. Football is so physical that if you don’t give your best, fans will easily notice it and they won’t give you the kind of support you need from them.
What inspiration did you get before scoring against Chad in the 2017 African Cup of Nations qualifier played in Kaduna recently?
Playing for my country alone is enough inspiration and as a player, I always believe that much is expected from me and I’ve got to give my best to make sure that we win. You will agree with me that the match was tough and if we had not scored that goal, probably the Chadians would have been targeting a draw against us and it would have been a problem. It is a huge inspiration playing for Nigeria.
What did the goal mean to you as a player?
It means a lot to me and I strongly believe it will open doors for me. I must also thank our fans for their support and prayers that really saw us wining the match. This is the first match in the AFCON qualifiers and we needed to start well, so I think it was a good result for us and we are going to make sure we work harder to win the remaining matches.
Odion Ighalo scored the second goal in the match, how do you feel playing with him?
It was a good experience for me and I must tell you that we see ourselves as brothers and friends, so it has been a good experience playing in the same team with him. Football is all about working hard and learning from every game played and playing in the same national team with him has helped me to learn from other players.
Don’t you think that a 2-0 win against Chad is a slim one?
No, it is not. The truth is that we won and we got our two points, we can only improve on that and work towards ensuring that we qualify for the Nations Cup. We are just starting and I am sure that our next game is going to be better. The coaches told us after the match in Kaduna that we can improve on that and we all agreed.
Nigerians had expected one of the foreign based players to open the scoring against Chad but a home based player did it, how do you feel and what does it mean to the domestic league?
I feel great and happy to do it for my country, you know football is a team work, we all worked for it but I said to myself,I would be the one to score, simple. As in what the goal means to me, it means a lot to me and that shows that we have quality players in our league here. Like I said, in football, you have to keep working every day so that you can get better and that is it. Anybody could have scored the goal as well.
Would you describe the Chadians as an easy team?
No, there is no easy team anywhere. If we did not play well, they would have beaten us and that would have been the end, but we realize that we must not joke with the match and God helped us to win 2-0, which is good for us.
How would you describe the experience of playing under Coach Stephen Keshi?
It is a nice feeling playing under a very accommodating and experienced coach like him. But for you to win any coach’s heart, you also need to work hard as well. I am happy playing under him.
After the Chad match, the Super Eagles will play Tanzania, what are you looking forward to in the match?
Yes… I am looking forward to an exciting match and we are not going to underrate them, this is the time we really need to work hard for any points we need to qualify for the Nations Cup. We have only played a game with just three points so if we can win that match, it will be an advantage for us.
Nigeria will also play Egypt next year…
It is going to be a tough match but they don’t scare me because it is a game of football, all we should just ensure we do is to prepare very well for every match we play.
Let’s talk about your club, Warri Wolves, do you see the team finishing the season with a continental ticket?
We are still in the season and by the grace of God, we will work towards that.
Finally, do you see Nigeria making it to the 2017 AFCON?
God has the final say in everything but we will do our best to get there, with the support of Nigerians as well.