Emmanuel Ugwuka, attacking midfield player of FC IfeanyiUbah in the Nigerian Professional Football League (NPFL). He is a graduate of Statistics from Abia State University. He shares his experience in the just-concluded season and the Super 6 in this interview by the Tribunesports SAM NWAOKO. Excerpts:
At the Super Six, your club, FC IfeanyiUbah had a poor run. What do you think led to this?
Personally I wouldn’t say we had a terrible outing owing to the fact that we came with a very young team. To a certain level I would say that inexperience and fatigue played a major role. Playing five matches in 10 days did not help either… On the over all, we had a pretty good outing though we could pick a continental ticket yet we were glad to have made it to the Super 6 with such a young team.
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How do you think home-based players could make it to the national team? Do you think it is fair to go to the Nations Cup without home-based players?
Of course, going to the Nations Cup without the home based players is definitely not fair, even to the entire NPFL. But then the national team coach knows exactly what he wants. I believe that if the NPFL is being broadcast on national TV, it will give the coach more avenues to assess the home based players.
Most of the foreign-based players are being watched on television week in week out and that’s the advantage they have. Aside that, there are lots of great talents in our League.
Seeing home-based players featuring for Congo, Burundi, Mauritania, etc who are causing foreign-based players in other national teams headache at Afcon 2019, what does this suggest to you?
It’s a great lesson to our coaches not to keep ignoring our National League players. If these countries are doing well, why not give these great players in our own league the chance?
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How easy is it combining academics with football? What was the reaction of your parents to your choice to play professional football?
It wasn’t easy at all, missing lots of training sessions because I had to concentrate on my studies. I studied most times at night so I could create some free hours during the day to train. But generally speaking, it wasn’t easy.
Between you coaches on the field and lecturers in the classroom, who have impacted more on you?
That will be very difficult to say. I would say both in their own different ways.
What will you like to see improved in Nigerian League and football generally?
For me I would say that the NPFL should be beamed on national TV. That alone will change the face of the League. Then the officiating of matches by the referees should be looked into too.
How do you think the Eagles can win the AFCON?
We have all it takes to win the Afcon. The qualities are there, the experience too. All they have to do is play according to the coach’s instructions; to focus more on team goal rather than individual glory.
What are your career goals and objectives?
Play at the highest level of football. Represent my country at all levels and of course play at the UEFA Champions League. But above all is to represent my country at the FIFA world cup.
How would you describe your season, looking back?
This is a season I will not forget in a hurry. Unbelievable moments… In fact I had a season I will never forget. Thanks to the technical crew headed by Coach Uche Okagbue, we were able to play as a unit. They kept us close and taught us step by step. Against all odds, I had an excellent season.