Home- based Super Eagles goalkeeper Dele Ajiboye speaks with Completesportsnigeria.com’s ADEBOYE AMOSU on his expectations ahead of the 2018 African Nations Championship and other salient issues.
What do you make of Nigeria’s group at the African Nations Championship which has Rwanda, Libya and Equatorial Guinea?
I think it is a good one, but we have to be careful not to underrate any of the teams in the group. It is easy to say the three teams in our group are not among the strongest teams in Africa, but we have to prepare very well and take each game like a final.
The expectations from the fans is high and it will be a shame if we fail to make it to the next stage.
Which of the teams do you think will be the most difficult opponent in the group?
I don’t want to pick any team, but Libya will be many people’s pick based on their pedigree as a former winner. For me, we have to treat all the opponents equally.
Your coach, Salisu Yusuf said the African Nations Championship offers the home-based players an opportunity to stake a claim for shirts in the main Super Eagles side ahead of the World Cup. Do you share this optimism?
I strongly believe coach Salisu Yusuf is right. The CHAN is a big competition and a lot of attention will be paid to it. Though some people believe it is difficult for we (players in the Nigeria Professional Football League) to make the squad to the World Cup, but I disagree with them totally.
It is a big motivation for us to do well in the competition and big window to make the whole world know there are talented players in the NPFL.
The coach is not an outsider too, and I believe he made that statement on behalf of the head of the technical crew who is Gernot Rohr.
You were part of the team during the qualifiers and the WAFU Nations Cup in Ghana, do you think your team is strong enough to win the CHAN 2018?
Yes, we have a team that can win it. If you look at the team, you will observe that there is a blend of youth and experience.
We know the country has not tasted success in the CHAN before and we want to make history by winning it.
Were you disappointed not making the squad for the games against Algeria and Argentina?
Not really. I was initially not part of the team but I was later invited for the games against Cameroon.
We have a lot good goalkeepers in the country and each of us deserves the chance to represent the country.
I know for sure I will get another chance to be part of the team and I’m not bothered by the snub.
What is the relationship among you guys -the goalkeepers like?
We all have one common goal which is to help the country excel. In a team sport, it is important to be professional and do things with maturity.
In a situation where there are three goalkeepers in a team and the coach has to pick one, then the rest must give their full support. You never know when your own chance will come and it is important to keep working hard as well.
Do you see yourself making the World Cup squad?
It’s always good to be positive and work towards achieving one’s goal. It’s every player’s dream to play at the World Cup and I will keep working towards that.
The World Cup draw is coming up next week, what are your expectations?
I pray that the God of soccer smiles on us. It’s good to get a good draw, but we have to be ready to face the best teams in the world. Most importantly we have to prepare well for the competition.
On a final note, how do you see your club, Plateau United, faring in the Nigeria Professional Football League and CAF Champions League next season?
It will be nice to win the league again. It won’t be easy though because other teams will be out to win it too. Nobody gave us the chance to win the title last season and we are no longer the minnows everybody thought we were before.
Talking about the Champions League, it will be great to be the second club from Nigeria to win it after Enyimba. Though we don’t have the experience of playing in the continent before , but we will give it our all.