One of the two Home-based players in the present Super Eagles squad, Ifeanyi Anaemena has said since he joined the team for the 2021 AFCON qualifying matches against Benin Republic and Lesotho, he has not experienced any form of discrimination from the foreign based players. The captain of Enyimba FC also spoke to Trust Sports on the chances of his club in the 2019 CAF Confederation Cup.
Congratulations on your elevation to the Super Eagles from Team B….
I thank God almighty for this rare privilege to serve my country at this level.
Did your invitation to the Super Eagles come to you as a surprise?
It didn’t come as a surprise. I have been in the Team Eagles before where I had a good outing against Togo. So when I was handed the invitation to the Super Eagles, it didn’t come to me as a surprise. I saw it as a reward for hard work. Moreover, it has always been my desire to be in the Super eagles.
I know you would have loved to have your senior team debut against Benin Republic on Wednesday but it didn’t happen. Were you disappointed?
I wasn’t disappointed that I didn’t play. Don’t forget that I am just joining the senior team and those who have been there before me are doing a great job. They are giving the coach what he wants from them so I don’t need anyone to tell me that I have to wait patiently. It is a matter of time. The most important thing is that I am now in the team and the opportunity to play will come. My only prayer is that I shouldn’t disappoint my teeming fans when the time comes for me to play.
Talking of opportunity to play, will you be ready if you are handed your debut on Sunday against the Crocodiles of Lesotho?
I wish I am in a position to know if I will be travelling with the team so that I can answer this question. However, the programme for the match is on and if I make the team, I will be grateful to God. I am always ready to play. So if I am given a chance to play against Lesotho, it will still be a football match so it won’t be a problem.
Against Benin Republic, the Super Eagles had to come from behind to win 2-1. Were you surprised by the performance of your opponents?
I wasn’t surprised by the way our opponents played. They have a good team and deserve to be respected. I was also happy with the character of my team. It is not every team that can come from behind to win. The team has a truly fascinating fighting spirit. I think this has to do with discipline, hard work and determination. The players are professionals who know what it takes to play at this level. The victory over Benin Republic will motivate the team in future matches.
Were you satisfied with the support from the fans in Uyo?
The fans were fantastic. You will agree with me, that sometimes fans can decide the result of a match. Even when we were one goal down, the fans kept cheering us and that motivated the players to fight. The fans didn’t lose hope. I am happy that in the end, they didn’t go home disappointed.
Without a doubt you are new in the Super Eagles camp. Any form of discrimination against you, especially from foreign based players?
Naturally, people would think there will be discrimination against someone like me but that is not the case here. I am from the local league but there is no discrimination against me. I appreciate the senior players who are based in Europe. I am savouring the friendly atmosphere in camp. So to answer your question, I am getting along with everyone in camp.
Have you found anything to take back to your club?
Nobody comes to the national team and go back empty handed. I have learnt a lot of things that will help me to serve Enyimba more than ever before. Without been told, I know I am now a better player.
Enyimba are said to be in a difficult group in the Confederation Cup, do you see them progressing to the quarter-final?
The group is a tough one. Each team in the group is strong but we know that we just need to work hard, stay focused and be determined to win. I know that if we remain focused, we would be able to get out of the group. I hope the sponsors of Enyimba will give us the necessary support.
What would you say was responsible for Enyimba’s exit from the Champions League?
We started our campaign in the Champions League with a lot of new players. We were still trying to understand each other. The season had not started so it was difficult to blend. There are quality players in Enyimba. Once we understand one another, our performance will be better.
You must be disappointed when Enyimba dropped down to the Confederation Cup?
It wasn’t a complete disappointment because like I said earlier, we were just coming together so we needed time to blend. If the league had started, we would have progressed in the Champions League. Now the league has started so by the grace of God we would be mentally and physically fit to compete in the Confederation Cup.
Enyimba drew 1-1 at Katsina United. Is this a sign that the ‘Peoples elephants’ are going to retain their title?
Everybody talks about retaining the league title but it is not going to be easy. As the defending champions, everybody wants to beat you. Every team tries to step up their game because they are playing the champions. However, we are not under pressure. We would continue to take one game at a time. Against Katsina United, it was a tough officiating but we were able to get a draw. By the grace of God, we would retain the league title.