Super Eagles defensive midfielder Abdullahi Shehu in an exclusive interview with SavidNews.com shares his experience, ambition and moments playing at the 2014 African Nations Championship in South Africa for Nigeria as well as the factor behind the rejuvenation of Nigeria. The former Nigeria U-20 star and Kano Pillars ace who started twice and came off as substitute against Mali reveals the ambition of the CHAN Eagles at their debut continental tournament. Excerpt.
How is the experience for you playing at this level for Nigeria?
Sincerely, i am so happy and grateful to coach Stephen Keshi for the chance given me to contribute my quota to helping the country football team succeeds at the international level. It’s the ambition of every player to play at the top level for the country.
As an emerging player, what has playing at CHAN done for your career?
I think is good for me and my career in football, it has exposed me and helped me showcase myself at the international level for Nigeria. I’m quite sure my performance will continue to improve to attract offers in Europe and possibly call-up for the World Cup in Brazil.
In group A, which of the group A matches was the toughest for Eagles?
I think it was the second match, that is against Mozambique. We had a plenty troubles containing the Mozambicans. We could not communicate to ourselves well at the back early enough as they were running at us. We played a tough and very attacking minded side in Mozambique. The game was good for both sides and winning that game boosted our confidence.
Personally – what are you targets with opportunity to play at CHAN?
For my target, the first is to win the African Nations Championship trophy, and the second, is to give my best enough to deserve a chance to play at the World Cup in Brazil for Nigeria.
What was responsible to the team’s turn around in their last two matches in Group A?
Sincerely, Coach Stephen Keshi was responsible for the turn around. He tells us not to entertain any tension, go and enjoy our game and that he believes in us. He also tells us not worry, it is part of the game to lose, but we have to improve our performance if we want to go far in the tournament. I’m happy with the opportunity of playing under Keshi, he is a good coach. He knows how to get the best of the players, encourage us too.
Now in the quarter-final against Morocco, what is the preparation like in camp?
For Morocco, we are very much prepared. The spirit is high. We were delighted with the victory against South Africa and that also have motivated us to going far in the tournament. We more focused and determined ever before in returning to Nigeria with the trophy.
What will be your message to fellow CHAN Eagles and Nigerians at home as you prepare for the match against Morocco?
My message to Nigerians is to keep praying for us, which I know they are doing but we need more of their prayers. As for my teammates, I want them to remain focus as we take on every match by playing like it is a final as the quarterfinal match against Morocco will not be an easy game.