Arsenal and Super Eagles forward, Alex Iwobi, is in a bouyant mood as Nigeria’s first match at Egypt 2019 Africa Cup of Nations against Burundi inches closer. He spoke to the NFF Media ahead of the AFCON 2019.
How will you sum up your season at Arsenal?
I’m quite aware this year that I’ve progressed as a starting option and I’ve gotten involved scoring a few more goals. I will say it’s been a good season for me (with Arsenal).
What is the secret of your improvement?
For me, it is just basically being more efficient in the front of goal and in the final third – either making a final pass or being able to have a shot on target or shot on goal. I’ve been able to be a bit more composed in the final third.
How did you feel scoring that goal despite Arsenal’s loss in the Europa League final?
Of course it was a mixed emotions to score in the final where it was a big achievement. We didn’t get to win and I would have traded that result for the goal. It was one of those goals I would have to cherish in memory and make me hungry to try and achieve and win the Europa League next season.
How can you describe your time so far in the Super Eagles?
I’ve been very blessed to be given the opportunity to play for the Super Eagles. I want to play my part and I’m always hungry and eager to show and represent my country to make them proud. I have to give the credits not only to the team staff but the fans out there – they really show me love and I really appreciate it.
How did you feel scoring that goal that saw the Eagles through to the World Cup?
Oh, against Zambia! Yeah, it was a special moment for me and the reason why I said it was special was because my family were there to support – my mum and dad were there to support. And the fact that I was able to spot them in the crowd after I scored made it extra special. It meant a lot to me, not just to send the whole nation through (to the World Cup) but also doing it in front of my parents. It was a great achievement for me.
Tell us about the camaraderie in the Super Eagles team?
The best word to describe us is family – we are a whole one big family. Everybody gets along with each other, there is no bad energy, everybody is positive and the chemistry is very good for the staff and the players. We are all getting along together as one big family.
How do you feel about your first AFCON?
Yeah, it will be my first and we did well in the group (qualifiers). We had some good teams in there so it wasn’t easy, but we did well to finish first in the group. We know it’s not going to be easy in the AFCON because it’s been a while we entered into the African Cup of Nations finals. But we are going there with confidence hoping to do well, no doubt. And not only that, the team has lots of young talents so there is a lot of hope and bright future ahead of us. So we’re preparing and looking forward to take part in the AFCON.
What do you think of the Eagles’ group?
Everyone is always going to say on paper that we should go through, that we should qualify with ease, but we know it’s not going to be easy. Every team is in there to try and do their best – to try and win, so it’s going to be almost like a war. It’s going to be a serious battle and fight in every game which is going to be very competitive. I’m sure that Madagascar and Burundi even though it’s their first time will come with a lot to prove, to show everyone why they got chance to be in the finals. And I think there’s hope for them because they finished well in their qualifying group, as well. So it’s not going to be easy.
What position do you think the Super Eagles should come back with?
We haven’t really discussed that as a team but we all have this dream, this desire that we want to win every competition – that we want to go there and bring back the trophy. So that’s what we are going to try and do. Like I said, we are confident and we’re going to be working hard and hopefully, we can do – not only ourselves proud, but the whole nation proud as well.
How supportive has your family been so far?
Without my mum, daddy and even my sister I wouldn’t be where I am today. They know the real me more than anyone else. If anything happens, good or bad, they are the first people to know because I’m always communicating with them. Even as I’m here in Egypt and they are not here, we’re always talking and I’ve always had that support from them. Not only that they support me, but I also support whatever they do and I am always trying to help. I really appreciate them.
Did Okocha inspire the nutmeg skills?
Em… I will like to take ownership for this one (laughs). Okocha, my uncle has got the skills more, but not nutmeg – I will say that is my own ownership (laughs). It’s something that just comes along instinctively. I don’t go into games thinking I’m going to go nutmeg someone. Sometimes it’s just the easier way for me to get past an opponent. I’ve been given a title of ‘Prince of Nutmegs’ and I can’t let my people down (laughs).
What do you think of the individual stars in the Eagles list?
Firstly, I will like to say having Mikel back is great. Someone with so much experience – what he’s done for Chelsea, for the country, especially to have him in the base of the midfield is always good. He is always talking to me and and others, trying to help me with my game because it is a bit different playing in Nigeria and in African condition than to play in Europe. So he is always there to help and guide me when I’m playing. But for the players, we have a lot of stars but we work as a team and don’t rely on one person. We players playing their roles and even though the attackers will always get the most credit for the goals, but we attack and defend as a team. It is a collective performance we have focused on and that’s what brought us to where we are and why we have been doing so well recently.
Which is the most memorable game you have played for the Super Eagles so far?
I always going to say it was the one against Zambia because my mum and dad were there. It was the first time my mum actually watched me play abroad or in Nigeria. So that is most memorable for me.
What’s your message to your fans?
I will just like to say thank you and I always appreciate the love and support they have always shown me even when I’m not at my best, they’ve always got my back and motivate me. I like to say thank you and I will always do my best. I will always give a hundred percent to make sure I do you guys proud and hopefully, there is more good memories to come.11 BUSINESS NUGGETS FROM SUPER EAGLES BRONZE MEDAL TRIUMPH. The content of this ebook will propel you above your competition. DOWNLOAD NOW!!!