Saturday, March 15, 2014

Q & A with Chinedu Udoji

He is the leader for two-time African champions, Enyimba, on and off the pitch for more than a year now since taking up the armband at the start of the 2012/13 Glo Premier League season.

Chinedu Udoji [pictured] spoke to on the eve of the southeast derby against rivals, Enugu Rangers. He talks on the rivalry with the Flying Antelopes, Enyimba's dominance over their opponents in Aba since the Premier League era.

The old-fashioned centre-back rounds off this chat by admitting that his dream is to play in one of Europe's top five leagues, where the art of defence is highly appreciated. Thursday's game against Sunshine Stars ended 0-0. Do you think Enyimba missed the chance to win that game in Akure?

Udoji: Yes we had a lot of chances to score but we didn't take them. Although you'll have to admit that their goalkeeper (Ikechukwu Ezenwa) had a good game. But we thank God for the draw. Do you think Enyimba are still haunted by the fact that they've never won at Sunshine Stars in the Premier League era?

Udoji: You know it was our first match of the season. I believe we will get better as the season progresses. You'll be playing in another big game on Sunday against Enugu Rangers. That is two big games in the space of four days. Don't you fear fatigue will set in for you and your teammates?

Udoji: No I am not sure. We are professionals and we have been conditioned to such match schedule over the years. We are always ready for this kind of games and we are also ready for this one. Rangers are one of your biggest rivals in the southeast and in the country apart from Heartland and Kano Pillars. How special is this game to you and your team?

Udoji: To me it is not that special. I treat all matches special because I love winning every match. (cuts in) So it's going to be a win for Enyimba on Sunday then?

Udoji: By God's grace, we will. Do you feel proud of Enyimba's record against Rangers in Aba especially in the Premier League era where Enyimba have never dropped points in Aba or conceded a goal against Rangers?

Udoji: Yes it's a very proud record for us as a club. It shows Enyimba have a tradition and mentality of winning matches, big matches for that matter. But we have to work hard to keep that record going. Do you feel under pressure to keep that record going and even continue to keep your record of not conceding at home in the league from last season?

Udoji: No we are not under any pressure to keep that record. All I can say is we want to do better than we did last season. Can we say doing better than last season could mean going the whole hog to win the league since you finished second last season?

Udoji: Yes I believe by the grace of God we can do it. But we will have to work hard to achieve that because other teams also want to win the league this season. Do you have any personal target for this season with Enyimba?

Udoji: I want to win everything and to be a better player because I am thinking of going places. Do you have the dream of playing abroad? And which country would you love to play in?

Udoji: Yes of course as a professional footballer I am thinking about it. Any country where football is regarded as a big sport and where there's a large pool of big players who I can learn from by playing alongside them will be fine for me. But I'll love to play in Italy. Have you thought of playing for the Super Eagles some day after being overlooked by the national selectors?

Udoji: Yes I look forward to that. But I guess it's not time yet for that to happen. So I'll wait for God's time and I believe it will come in the future.

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