Super Eagles stand-in coach Daniel Amokachi believes Vincent Enyeama has done enough to beat Yaya Toure to Africa’s top prize. He spoke with RICHARD JIDEAKA soon after leading the Super Eagles to a 5-2 victory over NYSC on Monday in Abuja.
What is your impression of the Super Eagles B team after the 5-2 victory over NYSC football club?
I think score line is not what is important; the important thing is the tactical angle of what we have been working on for the past seven days and it showed. All the negatives and mistakes we saw is what we are going to continue working on as from tomorrow.
Looking ahead to the match against Ivory Coast, do you see your team pulling a surprise win over the star studded Elephants in the friendly match in Abu Dhabi?
We are not going to the match to upstage the Ivorians because this is a home-based team. It’s off season for them and this is just seven days in camp for players that have been off the pitch for two months. It will take a lot to get them back but with what we have seen in training so far, they are coming up gradually but you cannot compare them with a team whose players feature regularly in top leagues and will be representing their country in AFCON. Definitely they will be fit but football is a 90 minutes game, 11 players against 11 players.
What is your ultimate target for this team in the two friendly matches?
This team is not my team, I am just sitting in and taking these players on a two games stint in Abu Dhabi in United Arab Emirates. We are representing Nigeria, not myself, as a coach. We know the task ahead, we all know that when we step into the field and the game is on definitely, we will achieve our goal, which is winning. We shall try to win both games.
Do you regret Nigeria missing AFCON in Equatorial Guinea?
I am a Nigerian, I would have loved Nigeria to be there; unfortunately we are not. That is football for you, you win some games and you lose some, that is how we have been brought up in our profession. But it is painful we just have to watch from the stands but all the same we wish all the teams that will participate in this year’s edition all the best and we are looking forward to being there in the next edition and probably win the cup again.
Do you see Enyeama winning the CAF African Footballer of the Year crown?
If he wins it, he deserves it. For the last few years, he has been the best goalkeeper on the continent and at the same time he has been doing wonderfully well in the past three seasons in the French league and even went ahead to win the best foreign goalkeeper in France.
Though�he will be against tough opposition, you know Yaya Toure is probably in the best form of his life. But if justice is being done, why not. Enyeama might end up winning it but we always seem to give awards to the strikers who are doing pretty well. I think that is only the disadvantage that will be working against him, but performance wise I am sure Enyeama will win it.
Have you picked your final 19 players for friendlies?
I cannot just pick them like that, because players are off season. We just have to keep working, but definitely there are five players who have shown that they are ready to work and they will make the team but others are under surveillance. But we don’t want to pick based on big names, we are going to pick based on fitness and form.
Are you scared of leading home-based Eagles against star-studded Ivory Coast?
No, not all. We shall respect them as power houses in African football but we shall not fear them. We shall give them a good game and if we get the chance to beat them, why not?
Are you under pressure to prove yourself with the Eagles on this trip?
I told you earlier that this is not my team and the issue of being under pressure to prove anything. I don’t have to prove my ability with the games so I am not under pressure.