Super Eagles duo of Samuel Chukwueze and Paul Onuachu were in Lagos yesterday as part of the Nigeria Football Federation's delegation to the signing of a partnership agreement with CIG Motors, ( the authorized distributors of GAC Motors in Nigeria). DURO IKHAZUAGBE was amongst the reporters who fielded questions with the two players before they left Lagos to go and join their teammates in Benin City ahead of Friday clash with Sierra Leone in an AFCON 2022 qualifier. Excerpts...
Looking forward to the AFCON qualifier against Sierra Leone this weekend. What are your expectations?
It's a very important game for us as a team and the Federation also. If we win the two games home and away, we will have qualified for the Africa Cup of Nations. The next two games remaining, I think we can enjoy ourselves with it and have more confidence to play in the World Cup qualifiers. But I think this game is very important for us as a country because Nigerians love football and we need to make them happy. In this kind of situation, with the recent youth issues (#EndSARS protests), we have to win to make everybody happy about the country. I think it is the perfect time to play this game and win for our people.
This is the first time the Super Eagles will be playing without their fans. How would this playing without fans in Benin City affect the morale of Eagles?
I think it's going to be like, crazy, you know. Playing without the fans and for the love of your country, not having anybody to cheer you up, I think it's going to be difficult. But we are going to try our best and play. But without the fans, the music and everything it will be difficult. But the most important thing is for us to win.
For a very long time you've not been scoring goals. Only last week, you broke the jinx by scoring for your club Villarreal. For the Eagles game with Sierra Leone, what should be the expectations?
I need to start scoring goals and I've been working towards it. It's not like I don't want to score but sometimes it's not just going your way and I'm trying to push harder to score. I've been recording more assists and the coach used to tell me it's not really important so long as I am helping the team to win matches. that I understand but I need to score my own gals. But my coach is satisfied as long as I'm doing well, playing as I'm instructed, you know.
Personally I would love to score more goals and I'm trying to develop my game. I'm developing and hopefully, my coach will get to say Samuel, you need to start scoring more goals. So, I'm working towards scoring more goals.
There were recent speculations that some big clubs are looking to sign you on in England. How are you enjoying your game at Villarreal and will you accept it if the offer comes from England?
Well, Villarreal is my home and it's just like a family for me there. It depends on the offer that comes from England or anywhere but the most important thing is where I will be able to play week-in, week-out. It's not any offer that comes that I will just accept, you know. It will be like Samuel, we are giving you good offer and you're gonna be playing every week-in, week-out except if I have injury or maybe I'm not fit. But if I'm fit, I will have to play. That's a condition.
Villarreal are doing so well this season and are currently in the top three in the LaLiga. Where do you hope to see your team at the end of the LaLiga season?
I think this season with the new coach (Unai Emery) and his tactics and everything, we can fight for the LaLiga title and Champions League qualification. At the least, if we can't win the title, we want to qualify for the Champions League. That's our target.