In this exclusive interview with SPORTS INTELLIGENCE MAGAZINE, the National Chairman of the Nigeria Football and Other Sports Supporters Club REV. SAM IKPEA had a chat with JOSEPH ODOEKWU about the recent Golden Eaglet loss to Australia in the ongoing FIFA U-17 World Cup tagged Brasil 2019. He is optimistic the team will do well and also commented about the Tokyo 2020 Olympics team. The excerpts read
The Golden Eaglets lost to Australia for the first time at the U-17 stage, do you see them going far following that poor performance which they put up?
First, I will disagree with the notion that the Golden Eaglets put up a poor performance against Australia. That we lost by 1-2 doesn’t mean the boys are not good. From my experience as a long time follower of football, I believe the team has the potentials to go far.
If by chance this team reach the final and meet Australia again, do you think the Golden Eaglets will beat Australia?
I strongly believe they (Golden Eaglets) will beat Australia if both teams meet again in the final. In fact, If you watched the match last night you will agree with me that the Eaglets were gallant in defeat. They pressed the Ocean boys till the end of the match but missed lots of scoring chances. Moreover, they had already qualified and that probably influenced their decision to rest most of the key players. Am very optimistic the boys will defeat Australia if they meet again.
If you have an opportunity to be with the Eaglets Technical crew, what would you be telling them?
If I am given that opportunity to be with the coaches I will only give them and the boys words of encouragement. You know that both Manu Garba and Nduka Ugbade are experienced World Cup coaches. They know their onus and I would only advise the boys to put up a better performance in subsequent games.
Senegal, Nigeria and Angola are three African teams paving way in Brazil, do you see an African team winning the title?
That’s a tough one. To predict that an African team can win the cup is not easy because other countries are equally ambitious and want to win the trophy too. Brazil, as the host country are currently doing well and I am sure they will also be glad to win it on home soil. In fact, you should also know that Brazil are trailing Nigeria having won it three times while Nigeria have won it five times. However, I want an African country to win it and I am looking forward to Nigeria doing that irrespective of whether Brazil is host or not.
Lets talk about the Tokyo 2020 Olympics now, Nigeria will slug it out with Ivory Coast, South Africa and Zambia in the qualifiers to get a spot, do you see them qualifying for Tokyo 2020 Olympics?
I have a strong conviction that the Olympic Eagles shall qualify for the Tokyo 2020 Olympics games. The boys are young, gifted and determined. Like the previous Olympic teams, I know that this team would also want to make a good name and record for themselves and Nigeria.
What plans are the supporters club putting in place for Team Nigeria ahead of the Tokyo 2020 Olympics, will it be limited to football or will other sports get supports too?
We have been in this job of supporting our teams for years and it’s not new to us. But we try to improve each time and introduce new things. For Tokyo 2020 our business will not be limited to Football because we have other athletes in other sports that will be representing Nigeria in one sports or the other. We will give them the moral support to ensure they win gold medals at the event.
As the national chairman of the supporters club, what target will you be giving Team Nigeria in terms of winning medals at the Tokyo 2020 Olympics?
Frankly speaking, I am not interested in giving them a target to win medals. As a stakeholder and one that is playing a role of supporting and encouraging them, mine is to ensure we give them the support that will ensure they make history as far as winning medals is concerned.
Thank you very much sir for making out time to chat with us
Thank you too for coming around