Former Super Eagles winger, Tijani Babangida played over 30 games for the Nigerian National Team. He participated in two Africa Cup of Nations Tournaments and, won the Olympics Competition with the National Team in 1996. With over 200 goals to his credit,Babangida retired from Professional football in 2004 and took up a career as an International Football Agent. Presently he serves as Chairman of the Taraba F.C
In this exclusive interview with JOI JOHN, he shares his views on the performance of the present squad at the 2013 AFCON tournament and more.
JOI JOHN: You played with Stephen Keshi during your active days in soccer. What are some of the qualities he brings to the table as Coach for the National team?
T. BABANGIDA: I have always said that Keshi is ahead of most of these coaches. First he revived the football in Togo, then to Mali. He has a lot of experience . Keshi was not only a footblall player alone but also a leader. By being a leader, he knows how to interact with players.
When he came back to work for the national team, he came in as a big brogher. He called me to discuss ways to move the team forward. I referred a pro league player to him and he invited the to the camp. The player was there for 2 months.
I believe that Super eagles is on track with him. I have already said that Keshi needs time. He needs 2-5 years. So far, he has already made it in 1 year and he only spent 6 weeks with the boys in camp.
JOI JOHN: Lately there have been speculations that Keshi will leave the team. Is it likely?
T.BABANGIDA: He will continue. Keshi is going to continue.
JOI JOHN: The Super Eagles have had a remarkable outing this year to the surprise of many Nigerians who had lost hope in the team. In our last match against Mali, Emenike and Moses sustained injuries. From a professional point of view, how will you assess the performance and strength of the squad as we take on Burkina Faso at the finals?
T.BABANGIDA: Well Joi, you can see that our team has grown. After every match our team grows higher. It a takes alot to motivate a team and Keshi must be commended. Keshi is like a friend to the players and you can see the chemistry among them. The inclusion of Moses made the team stronger. Moses has a big stake in the team. For example, Emenike may not play in the finals because of his injury. If Emenike cannot play, Uche can also play and fill in the gap but if we loose Moses, we are going to have a big problem. He is one of their strong players and he will strengthen the team on the field. Don’t forget we also have Mikel who is very reliable.
JOI JOHN: I was highly impressed with Ahmed Musa as well. What do you think of him?
T.BABANGIDA: Earlier, we couldn’t see the good side of Musa. When they play 1 on 1, you see the better side of him. Starting him out on 0-0 can be difficult because we don’t have a player like JAY JAY that can give him the pass at the right time. The moment we score an equalizer, Musa can be very dangerous.
JOI JOHN: The last time we won the AFCON competition was 19 years ago. Are you confident our players are on track for victory this time around?
T.BABANGIDA: Very confident. The Burkina babes are on fire but, we are equal to the task. Except if the god of Football is not with the Super Eagles on Sunday, that is the only thing that can stop us from bringing that Trophy back to Nigeria.
© 2013. JOI JOHN. All Rights Reserved.
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