Super Eagles AFCON revelation Sunday Mba in this interview with our correspondent discloses among other salient issues why he chose relegation-bound Bastia in Ligue 1. Excerpt…
Your fans are stunned by your shocking move to relegation bound Bastia in Ligue 1, what happened?
They should not be surprised. There comes a time in the life of a man when he has to take his fate in his hands and make some decisions which could be termed radical. My move to France could be interpreted to be one of such decisions but I make bold to say it is for my good.
How do you mean, it is for your good?
You will recall that shortly after our AFCON success I had several offers but the issues between Rangers and Warri Wolves scared away most of the Europe clubs that wanted my service because no club would want to be dragged into transfer row which FIFA strongly frowns at. The transfer saga affected by game because I was merely watching my future being toyed with over a very small issue which needed understanding between both local clubs. Psychologically I was down and each time I get unto the field the question I keep asking myself is, where did your fine performance in AFCON land you? It is so painful and it almost led to desperation and even frustration. All efforts to convince Rangers and Wolves to save my career were almost abortive and I became more of a football orphan. My family was grossly affected and things got very bad. So all I needed was an escape route because going to play in CHAN after doing so well in AFCON tournament has its own psychological challenge. You can only pray to do well else you become a yesterday player and fans will tie your performance in AFCON just around the team and players you worked with.
Are you saying therefore that you moved in a hurry to France to avoid going to CHAN?
Not exactly. But I am glad that I’m in France.
Don’t you think your presence in CHAN could help the team win the tournament and add value to your rating?
In football you make hey while the sun shines. No one remembers your contributions or heroics when you are down. That is the make up of the game. You are important only when you are. Winning CHAN won’t have changed anything because already clubs in Europe are having a very wrong impression about me given the transfer issues between Rangers and Wolves. So I’m like a plague and every club is distancing itself from me. I couldn’t be waiting for CHAN trophy when I had an opportunity to move presented to me by Bastia.
So Bastia belled the cat?
You can say that again. I am grateful to the club for this opportunity and I will show that in my performance God willing. It does not really matter if the club is in the bottom of the log in Ligue 1, what matters to me at the moment is that I am in France.
Do you think Bastia can escape relegation?
Anything is possible in football. But like I said it does not matter if the club goes down. It can still bounce back and that is why I am here in the first place. I will just appeal to my fans to be patience and to pray for me and of course my club.
Austin Ejide was with Bastia at some point, did this influence your move?
Sincerely as at the point that I decided to move I was not thinking about that. But later I got to know that Bastia like other French clubs love black players so much and with Ejide’s performance at the club, surely I will be better appreciated by the fans of the team in due course. I am just challenged by Ejide’s good works and larger than life’s image here. He set a standard of a thorough professional. His conduct was splendid and I hope to do better.
Now that you are settled emotionally what should your fans expect from you?
They should expect to see an improved player. They should just keep praying for me.
What is the financial package of your move to Bastia like?
I don’t discuss financial matters in the press. Such issues you know are private. But at least it is worth the move and things can only get better with time.
Keshi says no automatic shirt for AFCON Eagles in Brazil squad, what is your reaction to this?
It is the thing right to do. We the players can only hope to work harder and eventually make the squad. He believes in merit and the results are there for all to see.
Do you see yourself making the trip to Brazil?
I am not God. I can only work hard, pray and wish the best things for me and my career. One of the reasons why I moved to France is to make myself relevant and possibly use that as a launch pad to make the Brazil squad. All I need is prayers for my plans to work out. I really want to be in Brazil because that is the highest level of the game and it is the prayer of every player to be at the World Cup. Who knows a good outing in Brazil could open better doors and offers for me.
There are lots of players in your position that will be battling for World Cup shirt, are you worried about competition for places in the team?
Competition for places or battle for shirts if you like is the beauty of a team. Any player who is not ready for it does not worth being part of the team. The more they say, the merrier. I am not and can never be scared of my colleagues or fellow players. In fact I thrive under pressure. My best often comes when I am faced with the challenge of playing alongside the best players. I love competition for places because it brings out the best in me.
Many opine that Eagles will shine in Brazil, what is your take?
You want me to speak in the contrary? That is not possible. This team improves with every game and every tournament. We will surely shine because the understanding among the players is near perfection and it can only get better when we get into camp for Brazil 2014 World Cup.
Thank you for talking with us.
The pleasure is mine.