–Super Eagles defender, Azubuike Egwuekwe tells SAB OSUJI in this interview that the team is determined to beat Chad on Saturday and ensure they qualify for the 2017 AFCON in Gabon.
Azubuike Egwuekwe, we’re already counting down to Saturday for the big AFCON 2017 qualification showdown with Chad. How are you guys preparing for it out there in Kaduna?
Yeah, we’re looking forward to winning the match, the three points are very important to us and we want to start on a good note, which is to win the game.
I hope you guys are not beginning to play down the Chadians. What do you know about them? Have you been able to watch their match video tapes?
No, we are not underrating any team; you know there are no cheap teams in football these days. It’s just that we are focusing on the game. We have not watched any tape of the Chadians. But the only thing we know about them is that they are made up of foreign based players, no home based player in their team.
It’s even good you guys know about this. So what it means is that you are up to a tough game on Saturday, isn’t it?
Of course, we’ve learnt our lessons. We’ve learnt from our 2015 mistakes when we did not qualify for the AFCON. This time, we want to face the games head-on.
So how are the players preparing for the game?
Everybody knows what is at stake; we know the importance of the game so we are really working hard for it. The spirit in camp is very high because each player is doing his best to make the final cut.
That’s interesting; it means you want to be at the 2017 AFCON as parting gift to your captain, Vincent Enyeama who said he will retire after the 2017 AFCON, if the Eagles qualify.
Retire? Well I’ve not heard about Vincent Enyeama who is our captain, retiring in 2017. I’m just hearing it for the first time.
But that’s just the truth, Vincent Enyeama, said if the Super Eagles qualify for 2017 AFCON, he would retire after the championship in Gabon…
Whichever way, our objective is to do all we can to pick the AFCON ticket, we missed the 2015 edition and it was so painful. So this time around, we cannot afford to sit it out. That’s why we are working very hard; the coaches are doing their best to ensure that we achieve the result we want.
How is the atmosphere in Kaduna?
Kaduna is okay, the people are passionate about football, about the Super Eagles and have been coming around to watch and cheer us during training. That shows they will stand behind us come Saturday when we play Chad.
Aside the match against Chad, the Super Eagles will be up against Tanzania in the next AFCON qualifier…
(cuts in) We’re taking the games one at a time, when we’re through with Chad, then we can think and talk about Tanzania. Yes, they are our next opponents but the focus right now is on the game with Chad.
What’s the competition for starting shirts in the team like amongst the players?
I’ll say it’s a positive one; everyone wants to play and is giving his best in training. Hard work is key but it’s left in the hand of the coaches to determine who gets a shirt on Saturday and who doesn’t.But the most important thing is that whoever gets the nod of the coaches will have the full support of all the players and of course, Nigerians in general.
I wish you and the team all the best of luck on Saturday.
Thank you, we want all Nigerians to stand behind the team, morally and spiritually. We’re determined to win and do the country proud not only in Saturday’s game but other ones coming up.