Super Eagles and Celtic of Scotland defense stalwart, confident of surprising Congo in Pointe Noire
The Super Eagles of Nigeria are up against Congo this afternoon in a match touted as their biggest game in recent times…
In this interview with Complete Sports’ David Meshioye, Ambrose Efe boasts that the Eagles now know what to expect from their hosts, who shocked them 3-2 during the first-leg encounter in Calabar…
Reflections on the first leg 3-2 loss
It was a shocking result to say the least. We don’t underrate any team and I can confidently say it again that it is not in our attitude to look down on any team, be it known and unknown. That loss came as a big shock to us, but we had to take it in our stride. It was painful but we had to put that game behind us before facing South Africa.
Scoring against the Congolese
Yes! It was amazing for me and the rest of the team. It has been awhile that I scored such a goal and I felt like yes we are on course to win that match, until the whole game turned against us. I am not one of those who criticize referees but honestly we never put any foot right as far as the officiating was concerned on that day. We have moved on from that game and I am looking forward to the return leg because I believe we will be out to pay them back in their own coin.
How would you rate the Congolese team?
Great side! They really showed great guts against us in the first leg and we were caught unawares. But we have learnt our lessons and that won’t happen again. We are not completely out of the race as far the qualifiers are concerned. You never know, even though the qualifiers have been very tough for us. We expected that as defending champions but we have to just work hard and focus on the battle of Point Noire. We just have to play as a unit and be compact in Ponte Noire. We need those three points and we will work hard to get it.
What went wrong in Calabar?
I think it was just like the proverbial statement that says the devil you know is better than the one you don’t. We didn’t really know much about the Congo team and their performance caught us unawares. Now that we know how much havoc they can cause, they should be ready for us too. We will take them serious and that will really give us the push. The game will be tough but we are ready for the war and we must win the war against Congo.
On Super Eagles losing its fear factor
Not really. African football has come of age and no team is a push over anymore. It is even more difficult when these teams come up against Nigeria; they tend to play us with extra courage and motivation, knowing that a good result against the defending champions will send warning signals to other opponents. Sudan played us as though their lives depended on those games. It really showed that we have to redouble our efforts when playing these teams.
On the dip in form of Super Eagles defenders
We always want to give our best when we come home to play for our country. Sometime one may be rested in club football; it does not mean that he has dropped form. But I can assure you that Nigerians will see a formidable defense against Congo. We will work so hard to keep them at bay. Sometimes you have a bad game; that is what football is about. I pray we get it right in Congo.
Handling the pressure
It has become part of our daily lives. Handling pressure is not new to all the players and we all see this game as important but the pressure is still the same. We are aware Nigerians want a win against Congo but we will play the game like a normal match itself and hope that the tide turns in our favour.
Playing on astro turf
I should not be talking about the pitch now but I think playing on a good grass pitch helps you play good football. Besides, it allows you to express yourself rather than struggle to play on bad pitch while trying to manage the opponent at the same time. Such will always destabilize you as a footballer, I am not using this as an excuse for our loss in Calabar.
On Super Eagles inability to play well on artificial turf
For me, I think we just have to deliver that champions stuff anywhere we play. We have played on terrible football pitches before, so pitch should never be an excuse. We know what do and make amends. No player loves to play on artificial turf but this is Africa and we just have to play. I see no reason why we can’t beat Congo at their backyard, if they can come here and beat us.
We need the prayers of Nigerians at this moment. We have been training on artificial turf since we returned. I strongly believe we are fully prepared for this match and nothing but a victory will be suitable for Nigerians. It won’t be an easy game by all standards, but we need prayers to carry the day.