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INTERVIEW – Ex-Eagles Defender Okpara: Super Eagles Can Stop Messi Like I Stopped Ronaldo

INTERVIEW – Ex-Eagles Defender Okpara: Super Eagles Can Stop Messi Like I Stopped Ronaldo

Completesportsnigeria.com’s JAMES AGBEREBI caught up with former Nigeria and Paris Saint-Germain defender Godwin Okpara who spoke about his new appointment as Flying Eagles co-ordinator, the France 1998 World Cup Super Eagles squad and the current side and how he marked out the legendary Ronaldo of Brazil  in the 1998 UEFA Cup between Strasbourg and Inter Milan…
You played for the Lagos All-Stars against the Abuja All-Stars and beat them 2-1, what’s your impression about the game?
This is the second-leg, in the first-leg they defeated us 2-1. It was a good game, injury-free and we thank God for that. We all enjoyed it, even the spectators too.
Both legs ended 2-1 so would there be a third game to decide the eventual winners?
I hope so and I hope they take it to a neutral ground so that there wouldn’t be any home advantage, so we will see what will happen.
You were part of the Super Eagles squad to France 1998 World Cup, what can you say about that squad compared to this current side?
There is no comparison. The France 1998 squad had a lot of big and talented players. We had very skillful players like Jay Jay, Kanu, which we don’t have now. But the thing about this current side is that they are more of a collective. During our time, we were more individual.
How far do you think the team can go in Russia?
With what I’m seeing, they can do more than what we did, I hope they go further. I can see that spirit and determination in them, and our coach (Gernot Rohr) is doing well. Since he took over from (Sunday) Oliseh, he has been doing great. He knows how to arrange the team. Like I said, I think they will do very well in this World Cup with what I have seen.
In the first leg of the 1998 UEFA Cup between Starsbourg and Inter Milan you marked out Brazilian Ronaldo with your team winning 2-0, do you think we have the players who can handle a player like Lionel Messi?
In football it’s all about how dtermined your teammates are. The game I played that day, I was well determined. Everybody wants to make a name, if they want to make their name, a game with Messi involved is that kind of game where they can make their name. If they can do it, definitely they will make their name. They should just have it in mind that they want to make a name for themselves.
Finally, can you tell us about your new appointment with the Flying Eagles?
I was picked as co-ordinator of the Flying Eagles. I hope things would work out well and we are hoping for the best. So I am wishing myself well and I am so happy, it is a great thing for me and I am very happy about it.
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  • To the best of my knowledge, Godwin Okpara was always a trojan on the pitch during his active days. He was cynosure of all eyes in U. 17 of 1989 with the likes of Jide Oguntuwase, Segun Fatuga etc. His exploits in European leagues spoke volumes but one problem or another denied Nigeria chance of getting much from him. Praise God he’s alive today. I will never forget his defensive brilliance. Pls inculcate defensive skills into our Flying Eagles boys.