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I Still Crave for Super Eagles’ Action, says Babatunde Michael

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Though he is yet to be invited to the Super Eagles squad since Franco-German tactician Gernot Rohr took charge, Qatari Sporting Club striker Michael Babatunde was amazing in the just concluded season as he scored 25 goals along with 10 assists that ensured his side gained promotion from the Qatargas league to the elite division, Qatar Stars League.

 

The 24 -year old spoke to thenff.com on his performance in the just concluded season, the current Super Eagles under Coach Rohr, his aspiration and much more.

Excerpts:

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Q: How was the just concluded season for you?

 

Michael: Well, it was a fantastic season for me I must say. Initially moving to Qatar was a big decision I had to make and My family and I reasoned together and when we were convinced that the challenge and offer was good, I moved to Qatari SC. I scored a total of 25 goals for the club this season with 10 assists in the just concluded season which was good enough to qualify us from the QatarGas League to the elite division, the Qatar Stars League.

 

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Q: A lot of people wondered why you chose to go to Qatar at a very young age despite having played for the Super Eagles at the FIFA World Cup in 2014?

 

Michael: After the World Cup in 2014, I had a deal to move from Dnipro in Ukraine to Morocco, and that was Raja Casablanca, which I did. I played just five months where I scored 12 goals with 15 assists and I won the award of the best player in the Moroccan league. A whole lot of offers especially from Eastern Europe surfaced but you know, the experience I had playing in Ukraine was not palatable at all and I didn’t want to go through that again. A situation where the club isn’t fulfilling their contractual agreements and where they owe players, i couldn’t have continued there just because I wanted to stay in Europe. So I moved to Raja and it was a good experience for me because I was able to add my quota to help the club from the 14th spot in the Moroccan league up to the 4th position before I left. The football in Qatar is highly competitive and being a rich country, the clubs competing in the league are very strong with very good players too in the league. I’m glad we have qualifed for the Qatari Stars League where we have top players like former Barcelona captain Xavi, Ivory Coast’s Yannick Sagbo, Mali’s and former Barcelona midfielder Seydou Keita and Imoh Ezekiel of Nigeria.

 

Q: Let’s talk about the Super Eagles. What do you think about the Super Eagles under German tactician Gernot Rohr?

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Michael: It is a fantastic set-up. The recent results of the team in the matches they’ve played shows it. The players are young and technically sound. I commend the Nigeria Football Federation for the appointment of Coach Rohr and I foresee better things to come for the Super Eagles.

 

Q: The last time you played for the Eagles was the friendly between Nigeria and Mali in France, do you still crave for a chance in this Eagles?

 

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Michael: Well, my invitation to the national team is in the hands of the handlers. I really still crave for a chance in the Super Eagles especially among this young set up. I’m just 24 years old and at least have had some experience playing with the team in the past so I’ll jump at any chance to feature for my country again. I think I need to focus on my job and that is playing consistently and performing too. At least now I’m back in the elite league in Qatar, I hope I’ll be given a chance soon, I really do look forward to it.

 

Q: What do you think about the Super Eagles’ 2019 AFCON qualifier against South Africa and the FIFA World Cup qualifier against Cameroon?

 

Michael: We are Nigeria and from the record I know, South Africa have never defeated us in a competitive game so I believe that trend will continue when we play them in June. The last time we played, they stopped us from qualifying for the Africa Cup of Nations in 2015 and its time to take back our pound of flesh. The players we have are very good, i have no doubt that the team will perform very well. For the Indomitable Lions, they are currently the champions of Africa and we must have that at the back of our minds. But, I think the technical crew of Coach Gernot Rohr will see how they perform at the FIFA Confederation cup and with that have more knowledge of the team. I believe we have the players to beat Cameroon home and away. I’m not boasting but I believe the Super Eagles will qualify in style for the World Cup.

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Q: Finally, the transfer window will soon be thrown open, do you have offers that may take you out of Qatar SC?

 

Michael: For now I have a running contract with Qatar SC and now that we have qualified to play in the Qatar Stars League its a good thing. So for now, I’m a player of Qatar SC. Yes, I already have 8 offers, four from the Chinese Super League, two from the German Bundesliga, and two from Turkey. Soon myself, my agent and Qatar SC will decide about my future.

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Kunle Solaja is the author of landmark books on sports and journalism as well as being a multiple award-winning journalist and editor of long standing. He is easily Nigeria’s foremost soccer diarist and Africa's most capped FIFA World Cup journalist, having attended all FIFA World Cup finals from Italia ’90 to Qatar 2022. He was honoured at the Qatar 2022 World Cup by FIFA and AIPS.

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Nigerian Football

Nigeria’s broadcast icon, Danladi Bako hails NFF on choice of Finidi George

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Nigerian broadcasting icon, Dr. Nasir Danladi Bako has praised the Nigeria Football Federation for settling for former international and ex-Enyimba FC strategist Finidi George as Head Coach of the Super Eagles.

The Kogunan Sakwatto, 66, who created a plethora of famous TV programmes including Morning RideMastersports and Second Chance, among others, and served as Special Adviser to a number of Sports Ministers many years ago, insisted the NFF leadership struck a bull’s eye with the appointment of the two-time FIFA World Cup star, stating that George oozes class and character, and an iron determination to succeed despite his public carapace of a quiet person.

“Finidi George has that cultured, disciplined mien and personality that makes you want to trust him with a big project. He understands the meaning of constituted authority and right from his playing days, has always displayed the attribute of a team player. He has always had that calm, collected nature even in the face of pressure or danger.

“Above all, he is not someone who thinks he is doing the nation a favour. He is grateful for the opportunity and I believe that he has all it takes to succeed. I am calling on the Federal Ministry of Sports Development, the NFF and Nigerians as a whole to support him to take the Super Eagles to brand-new heights.”

Bako, who holds a doctorate degree in development communication from the Ahmadu Bello University and was Director General of the National Broadcasting Commission between 1999 and 2002, says all hands must now be on deck to ensure victories in the 2026 FIFA World Cup qualifying matches against South Africa and Benin Republic on 7 June and 11 June respectively.

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“No doubt, the NFF got this one appointment right. Very much on point. Now, they should endeavour to give George all the support he needs to succeed in his task of qualifying Nigeria for the 2026 FIFA World Cup.”

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Nigerian Football

Nigeria’s sports minister, Enoh applauds NFF for ‘buying local material’

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Sports Minister Enoh (left) and NFF President Gusau (right) unveil Finidi.

Nigeria’s Minister of Sports Development, John Owan Enoh on Monday praised the leadership of Nigeria Football Federation for settling for an indigenous Head Coach for the Super Eagles, despite the plethora of foreign tacticians who applied for the job.

Enoh, who spoke at the unveiling ceremony of the Eagles’ new substantive Head Coach, Finidi George at the MKO Abiola National Stadium, Abuja, charged the NFF to give the former winger all the support to succeed, while also soliciting the support of all Nigerians for the new helmsman.

“As a student of the University of Calabar in those days, I used to go to the UJ Esuene Stadium to watch Calabar Rovers, which included Finidi George. I am excited to see him seated here as the new Head Coach of the Super Eagles.”

President of NFF,  Ibrahim Musa Gusau exuded delight with the ‘new chapter’ the Federation is opening about the Nigeria game, saying the football-governing body is determined to fully support George and his assistants to lead the Super Eagles to new heights.

“When we returned from the Africa Cup of Nations in Cote d’Ivoire, we began the search for a new Head Coach. There was a plethora of foreign applicants, far more than the indigenous applicants. However, we undertook a thorough process that has produced an indigenous Coach and we are very happy about that. Finidi George was part of the technical crew that came close to winning the AFCON, and we have faith in him that he will lead the team to the title next time.  

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“Our objective now is to ensure the enthronement of excellence at all levels of the National Teams.”

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Nigerian Football

No more bench-warmers in the Super Eagles, says Finidi George

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New man on the managerial saddle of the Super Eagles, Finidi George has stated that  he will invite for international assignments, only players who feature regularly at their clubs either in Nigeria or in the diaspora, and promised that the Super Eagles will remain even more competitive in the years ahead.

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