Tuesday, 29 May 2012

My legs will speak for me -ODIBE

Excellent work ethic, combined with stamina and a never give up attitude has resulted in Super Eagles defender Michael Odibe becoming a fan favorite in Kiev. With four goals and four assists last season Odibe had become a hot property for Arsenal Kiev afterdefense in their Europa cup ticket winning drive last season.
How has it been in Ukraine this past season? As you can see and be very much aware that it was fantastic season for me and the club. We did very well because of our focus and we try to justify our position on the table.

Personally, what do you think was the secret of the team qualification to Europa after the hectic season in the country? I’m not trying to blow my trumpet but I wish to tell you that my stability in the team was the greatest factor. Before I joined the club, I knew how the team was and where they are but since I started playing consistently, things moved better than expected and everybody in the club praise me for that. I am not trying to praise myself but I think I made a lot of impact at the defense line apart from my goals.

With this development, how would you describe your time at Arsenal Kiev? They gave me the opportunity to get more exposure and to add to my experience. But the most important was playing week in, week out. At Arsenal, I was able to play more than I ever did in the past. I’m grateful to God that I’m found useful in the club. Now, I am as strong as ever. I’m also happy that I did achieve my aim of qualifying for Europe.

It seems the coach have some confidence in you? My brother there is nothing however game me more joy than the trust the team’s technical crew and my team mates had in me including the club President and that gingered my game a lot because I always play with confidence.

Then you must be full of confidence after such an impressive game in Ukraine… It’s God not me. But I think I have grown more confidently in the game than before. The league and my game have really helped me a lot. I have no excuse than to prove myself because I was given a chance and it is my duty to justify it and that is why I was everywhere on the pitch.

How will you share your experience in the league compare to where you are coming from then? It was fantastic experience; I mean the best one you can always remember in your memory. I had it tough before moving to Ukraine due to first team shirt but when the opportunity came, I made use of it that I am a better player. I personally known my ability but I was just looking for a better chance than where I was coming from to show the world what I can do. And I got it because life was full of joy for me in the team and everybody including the president of the club wanted me and they showed me love. 

From third tiers in Italy, you went to Ukraine. How do you feel?
I never thought all these will come faster just like that, I expected myself to struggle at my first season in order to learn the game, the culture and the entire life in the country but I think I adapted quickly because of where I was coming from. Italy is a good place to be, I love the country and that was what gave me the easy life in Ukraine because I was able to forget the rough time in my club in Italy and give my best in Ukraine. I thank everybody that made it happen both in Nigeria and there.

There are lots of speculation around you with clubs like Marseille, Werder Bremen and Saint Etienne of France battling for your signature. What is the true picture? They are all true. Werder Bremen came to my club but I was not contacted for any official discussion though they discuss with my club but I am still not briefed about their discussions. I think are still some other offers right now but still not official with the likes of Marseille and others.

But did you see yourself leaving the club you labor so hard for a place in Europe next season? Everything is with God not me. I think the most ideal thing is to be praying for a better and joyous move that will give you all you want in terms of consistent playing and trophies. The ball is not in my court even though I have options but I want to be loyal to the club. Arsenal Kiev are making attempt to keep me but I am not ready to disclose anything concerning that yet because everything is not official yet.

Is your future now at Arsenal Kiev? Although I love the club but I cannot say with certainty that I will move or stay next season because the club may be tempted with bigger offers and that is what football is all about. However, that depends on number of factor. My concern now is to go on vacation, relax before deciding on the next step.

What do you still need to work on beautify your game next season. In football, you learn everyday just because you want to be one of the best in your position, I have seen some of my lapses and trying to work on them before the start of new season. I am still young and promising so I have much to learn in the game. But I want to be more compose at the front line of goals to score more goals next season as well as to cover well at the wing side of the defense.

Looking at your career. Is this the most exciting season you’ve ever involved? Obviously, it is! I did similar things when I was in AC Siena before they changed coach and things started falling apart but I enjoyed everything both on and off the pitch.

Many expected you to have made Stephen Keshi’ foreign pros for the 2013 Nations Cup qualifiers against Namibia. Were you shocked by the coach decision? Honestly speaking, I was surprised but it’s not something you should allow to stay in your mind for another second. Of course I felt bad at some point because I am looking towards taking my form to the national team since it is on merit but I still believe the coach will give me my chance. I felt I was qualified to be in the team. I hope I will get another call-up, and when the opportunity comes, I will give my best for my country.

But it seems Keshi does not look at players from Ukrainian league with the likes of Brown Ideye, Haruna lukman and Yusuf Ayila were not also invited… I disagree with you. How can you say that? It’s just a coincidence that we were not invited at this period not because of the league. It happens at times but I don’t think the coach have any disgust on the league. 

Nigeria have begun the 2013 Nations Cup and 2014 World cup qualifiers. Do you still believe you have something to offer Super Eagles? I’m looking forward to playing again for the Super Eagles. I hope the technical crew led by big boss will look my way this time around because I will always give my best for my country.

Monday, 28 May 2012

EMENIKE dreams Barca, Chelsea in UCL draw

Spartak Moscow talisman Emmanuel Emenike declared that Spartak Moscow are ambitious going into next season UEFA Champions  League having occupied the second spot in the just concluded Russian league.

The Super Eagles bullish striker hopes to lead his red and white club  to a more successful tournament after helping the team to win their major trophy in the mid-season Copa Delroy Cup in Norway, and the former Karabukspor king of goals has talked up his side's chances in next season Champions league.

“I’m happy that God made it possible for us to finish second, which was our target having lost the title chance to Zenith Petersburg and finishing second was a fantastic efforts which I think we are ready to take out some surprise in the Champions league next season.

“Yes, it is an opportunity for me to compete with the world best strikers. I don’t need to praise myself for my contribution in the club success but I think they appreciated my effort and I have been commended for that and that is by the way. My focus now is to have good vacation and return back to my club and prepare well for next season.

“I had good season, even though I experienced some difficulties which I think is one of those things in life generally, so I have put those ones behind me and my concentrations now is to help my club win the league. Yes, we can also win the Champions League after our play-off, it is possible. Who ever thought Chelsea will go all the way to final? And they won it. It’s all about determination and motivation.

“I will never rule out myself in lifting the Champions league but playing there is exciting, I can’t just wait to prove myself.
"We are ready to show great things next season. We are ambitious. There is quality in the team and more are still coming. 

"There are many requirements for Spartak and next year we will show something better than last season. It feels good that the campaign is over. I will not deny that it was a great season for me. I won a trophy, I score goals and my goals are crucial to the team, so I have reason to thank God and the fans.

“Next season is going to be tough in Russian league because we are already dreaming of the league. We played and scored lots of goals last season and I believe we can repeat the same performance that will supersede others.
“In Champions, I will like to play against the likes of Chelsea, Barcelona and Real Madrid. I think those are the most difficult clubs for now, so beating them will make us stronger for the subsequent matches but we must win our play-off first.

Sunday, 27 May 2012

KAYODE: From Grass to Grace!

From Nigeria Football Academy, Ibadan to Red Bull Soccer Academy, Ghana and then on to Cote d’Ivoire giants ASEC Mimosas before a loan move to FC Luzern of Switzerland, Olanrewaju Kayode is gradually becoming the journey man of Nigerian football.

His young career has seen its ups and downs. After interests from the Ghana FA to represent them, former Black Stars defender Tony Baffoe recommended Kayode to the Nigeria Football Federation.  But he was disappointed as he was often played as a late substitute by coach John Obuh at the 2009 U-17 World Cup on home soil.

However at the 2011 African Youth Championship, he scored a goal and won a penalty for another goal as the Flying Eagles beat Cameroon 3-2 to emerge African champions for the sixth time.
At the 2011 U-20 World Cup in Colombia, the player once on the radar of Spanish giants Real Madrid, posted a fine performance scoring three goals as Nigeria painfully exited the tourney in the quarter-final.
Now the player, who admires Portuguese superstar, Cristiano Ronaldo, says he’s not done yet with travelling as he aims to realise his dream of playing in the big leagues of Europe.

In the beginning
I started football just like any other Nigerian kid but it was easy for me to become a footballer because of my parents support. And I was motivated by my father who bought me kits to get along with my mates, so I had no problem telling them that I wanted to take football as a career even though my parents also wanted me to go to school. I still hope to go back to school some day.
I still remember a day I returned home from the field where we used to play local tourneys. I came back to tell my father to buy me boots for another tournament elsewhere. The next day he came back with a pair of boots for me. But some other young players weren’t as lucky; they were beaten and caged by their parents just to stop them from choosing football as a career.

Golden Eaglets
It was a very horrible experience for me at the U-17 World Cup but I’m happy I have made up in subsequent competitions I have represented my country. I lost concentration, I was not focused. I’m now a better player after the experience. My game is more mature unlike at the U-17 and U-20 levels.

Swiss topflight
I always wanted to play in Europe and to play in a lucrative league but at times you have to make sacrifices before you get to the top. That is why I welcomed the idea of joining FC Luzern. They may not be winning the Swiss league but they have good programmes for young players like me. My dream has been to play in Europe and that is the reason why I gave my best at ASEC Mimosas and they (ASEC) got me the offer.
Of course I told my club that I wanted to play in Europe this year and they agreed with me after playing for the Flying Eagles and scoring some crucial goals at the U-20 World Cup in Colombia.  With my performance in Colombia, ASEC officials told me about Luzern. And I am happy to have finally realised my dream.
Coming to play in Switzerland is a stepping stone in my career. That is why I must give my best to ensure that I have good offers by the time I finish my loan deal, which expires in December. It’s good for me to start my European sojourn in Switzerland because the facilities are very good.

EPL ambition
I have been playing consistently in Switzerland. If things continue like this hopefully I will play in a big league like the English Premier League or the French Ligue 1.

Personal aim
I want to emulate my model Cristiano Ronaldo both on and off the pitch but I would love to play for Arsenal. Ronaldo and Arsenal are big brands, so dreaming of both means I must work harder than before. I believe it is possible if I keep my h ead up.

Super Eagles
I want to play for the senior national team and I know I have to work harder to get a call-up from the coaches. Nigeria is blessed with lots of talents and everybody wants to play for the Eagles but I think hard work and dedication will give me my chance. I will be there in the Eagles but I am not in a hurry.

Firstly I always remember where I come from. Though I may be tempted with the fame that comes with the game, I always control myself when I remember my roots.
I love to look good and I like wearing good designer labels. I love listening to music and mixing with people from different countries. I love good cars but I am not a car freak anyway. Of course girls come around me probably because of my games. I respond well to them but I don’t womanise. I am too young for that. I have an image to protect.

Losing to France at the quarter-final stage of the 2011 U-20 World Cup was really hard to take. Another regretful moment for me was when the national U-23 team failed to qualify for this year’s Olympic Games.
Before the 2011 U-20 World Cup, I challenged myself to give my best at the tournament because if I did, I would have the chance to play for the U-23 side. God answered my prayers but I think we were not just destined to be at the Olympics.

Culled from Punch