Capped 25 times by Nigeria’s perennial rivals Ghana, Enyimba goalkeeper, Fatau Dauda, who was the Black Stars’ first choice at the 2013 Africa Cup of Nations in South Africa reveals to Completesportsnigeria.com’s ADEBOYE AMOSU his love for the country and his desire to play for the Super Eagles, if wishes were horses.
You are into your second season with Enyimba, how would you describe the experience so far and what are the difference between the Nigeria Professional Football League and Ghana Premier League?
Well, it has been a remarkable experience for me. I don’t think there is any major difference between both leagues as you have talented players here in Nigeria and Ghana.
The only difference is that the NPFL is tougher and more physical. You have to be very strong physically and mentally to excel in the NPFL. The league here is not meant for lazy players.
In Ghana, you see players who are over 30 years of age making impact in the league than the young players which is rare in Nigeria. The older guys are the ones who always hog the headlines.
You have also played in the South African League for Chippa United and Orlando Pirates. What major difference do you see there compared to the NPFL?
The key thing working for them in South Africa is the way they have branded their league. They have a lot of sponsors and the facilities are top class. They do their things like the North Africans. They are more well organised there.
In terms of talent, I believe we are better than them. The South African clubs have not really performed better than the Nigerian or Ghanaian clubs in the continent in recent years. Even at the national level, we are better than them.
It will be great if the League Management Company can work harder to make the league better and bring in more sponsors.
For a personality like you who has represented Ghana at two Africa Cup of Nations finals and also played professional football in South Africa, what attracted you to join Enyimba?
Whaaaoo… That’s an interesting question. To be candid with you, Enugu Rangers were the first Nigerian club to show interest in signing me, but I turned down their offers. That was about three years ago. I simply told them I was not ready to play abroad again at that time.
Then Enyimba approached me two years ago, their offer came at a time when I felt I needed a change and just finished my contract with Ashanti Gold. I had played in Ghana for 15 years and it was time to experience something new again.
Then, you have to look at the pedigree of Enyimba. It’s a club that is very popular in Ghana and probably the biggest and the best in Nigeria. It’s tough to turn such a big club down.
How has the change in culture and environment affected you?
The most difficult part of football to me is moving from one country to another or from club to club. But one has to adapt. In terms of food and the way of life here in Nigeria and what we have in Ghana, there is little difference.
I have met a lot of young guys here in Nigeria who are very respectful. You give them little gift and they show appreciation for that. It’s the same thing in Ghana. I think it’s just our way of life in Africa to love and appreciate our elders.
Talking about the food, I have adapted to them too. I particularly like Eba and Egusi soup. You know we play our home games in Calabar and those people cook really well.
I have also tasted some good foods in Lagos. It’s really been a good experience for me and I have enjoyed it so far.
Are you attracted to Nigerian ladies as much as you do to the local foods here?
Nooooooooooo… I’m a religious person and don’t get fascinated to women like that. As you can see, I just finished praying before we started this interview. I’m not easily attracted to ladies. I’m totally concentrated on football and my family.
You must have experienced some challenges too since you joined Enyimba…
Yes, you are right about that. Let me start by saying that I respect players who have been playing in the NPFL for years now. I must say the biggest challenge I have faced so far has to be with travelling from one match venue to another.
We play a game on Sunday for example and we have to travel the next day for another one on Wednesday. In most cases, we travel by road and most of the roads are bad.
The distance in most cases are very far. I have never experienced that before in my life. You know Ghana is a small country compared to Nigeria which is very big. The distances we travelled in Ghana is not far compare to what have here in Nigeria.
Most of the clubs in Ghana have big buses which are more well equipped that convey the players to different match venues. But like they say, when you are in Rome, you have to behave like Romans which means I have to adapt.
How challenging has it been for you competing with a top quality goalkeepers like Theophilus Afelokhai and now Ikechukwu Ezenwa in the Enyimba team?
Look, I have fought hard for everything I have achieve in my life. Coming to a big club like Enyimba I expected that there would be competition for places in the team, and I was ready for the fight.
It’s just like the other big teams in the world; Manchester City, Chelsea, Manchester United and the rest. They have more than one good goalkeeper and everyone has to fight for a place in the team.
What has relationship been like among the three of you?
Good. We don’t have any problem. I love to have them around because it brings out the best in me. I love learning too and I learn a lot by training with the two of them or watching them play.
Whenever I switch my television set on, the only thing you will see me pay close attention to is a football match because I love football and learning new tricks.
You have been snubbed by the recent successive Black Stars coaches, do you still harbour hopes of representing Ghana again?
For me, the most important thing now is to continue to do well for my club. It is when you do well for your club that you will possibly be recognised by your country. The media and the federation in Ghana are monitoring my performance here and if the coaches deem it fit they will invite me.
Would you have loved the chance to change your nationality and represent Nigeria at international level?
(Long laughter) ?hy not? Nigerians are passionate about football. They love football like we Ghanaians and you know that rivalry will be there forever.
If FIFA change their law today and I have the chance to play for Nigeria I will gladly do that. I won’t think twice before accepting the offer. There are a lot of talented players in the Super Eagles and it will be great to be part of a great team.
Nigeria now seems to be a kind of new base for Ghanaian footballers. Just last week, the duo of Farouk Mohammed and Tofic Umar joined Enyimba and there are two goalkeepers, Nana Bonsu and Mutawakilu at Rangers. What do you think is attracting your countrymen to the NPFL?
Well, I must confess that clubs here in Nigeria are paying better salaries than the ones in Ghana. You know most of the clubs in Nigeria are owned by the state governments except for few ones like FC Ifeanyiubah and MFM FC, and they have the means to pay players good salaries.
That is a big attraction for the Ghanaian players. Everyone was happy when Nana Bonsu won the the title with Rangers in his first season with the club which was one big attraction too.
Then when I joined Enyimba the level of interest increased more than before. They were like ‘Senior Man’ Fatau Dauda is now playing in the NPFL, then we must play there too.
Most of them ask me different questions about the NPFL but I always tell them there is money here but you have to be strong to survive because the league is very tough.
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I’m very sure we will have more Ghanaians here in the years to come and it will make the league more attractive. There are also players from other African countries here too. I have met guys from Togo, Niger, Ivory Coast and other countries too.
You seems happy with your pay here. How much do you receive as salary?
(Long Laughter) Don’t worry about that. I won’t disclose that because it is confidential.
On a final note, do you see Enyimba improving from their third place finish in the NPFL last season and winning the title next season?
To win the league next season is going to be tough for us. I’m not saying we can’t do it, but we must be ready for a big fight because a less fancied team, Plateau United won it last season and other small teams will believe they can win it too which will make it tougher.