Thursday, May 20, 2010

Interview: Wolves, My NPL Toughest Opponent – Agba

In January 2010, he completed a move to Tunisian side, CS Sfaxien, from Premier League side, Heartland Football Club of Owerri and became the second Nigerian on the payroll of the club. Uchenna Agba has already wormed his way into the hearts of Sfaxien fans with his sterling performance. Though CS Sfaxien did not win the Tunisian league, Agba would be hoping that his side reaches the group stage of the CAF Confederation Cup this year so that he could have the chance of featuring for the side since he is cup-tied for the play-off rounds. Agba, who was beaten to the 2009 Best African Player on the Continent by Tresor Mputu of Tout Puissant Mazembe and Democratic Republic of Congo, spoke to from his base in Tunisia on his three seasons with Heartland and his new challenge with Sfaxien.

I hope adapting to a new league is not proving difficult?
It is not quite difficult adapting be football is one language everywhere. The approach to the game is just different mentally because it is regarded as a big
business here (in Tunisia).

And what is it like playing alongside another Nigerian, Akarandut Orok, in the team of CS Sfaxien?
It is great to have a Nigerian in the team because it makes me feel at home since I know that I will have someone for company on and off the pitch. I am happy that the relationship I have with him is not just on the pitch but he is a true friend and brother. When I came here for the first time, he was really helpful and spoke to me a lot.

What memories do you have of Heartland having spent time there?
I miss the collective spirit of the players and the coaches too. It was a group of players with same focus to achieve. I believe that with just little input from the (Imo State) government and management it will be the best club in Africa. But in truth I miss the club. At times in life you have to make or take certain decisions and I believe that the club and fans understand why I took the decision to leave. The memories of Heartland will always remain in my head and heart.

While at Heartland, which players did u really enjoy playing alongside with and why?
We had a team, where no one wants to derail but I can remember (Ikechukwu) Ibenegbu as one player I enjoyed playing alongside on the pitch. Most times we are given the responsibility of dictating the tempo of the game. Also, we often played few metres apart to hold our team together.

How many seasons did you play at Heartland, and did you at any point find it difficult breaking into the first team considering the number of top players in the team then?
I played three seasons with Heartland. I played under three different coaches who created healthy competition amongst players. Occasionally when my form dropped I miss the chance of playing in the first team and another player takes my place. So at Heartland no player was able to beat his chest to say that he has a starting shirt before a game because there are too many good players.

So which opponent do you consider the tough in those three seasons with Heartland in the Nigerian league?
I cannot really figure out a particular team but I know no team is a write-off. You work hard to win in all matches.

Can you remember any opposing player that you found tough?
Yes I remember that our matches against Warri Wolves were always tough. The midfield of Warri Wolves is always rugged and they played everything in sight.
Matches against Warri Wolves are ones that we try to avoid because you might end up with injuries since they never let go. But I cannot say that a particular player (from Warri Wolves) played hard though.

Finally, if not football, what other profession would you have opted for?
By the grace of God, I would have been an industrialist.

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