Only God can stop Eagles–Echiejile declares
As Nigeria files out against Burkina Faso tomorrow in the 2013 AFCON Final, Elderson Echiejile declares:
By JOHN JOSUAH AKANJI, in South Africa
Super Eagles’ defender, Elderson Echiejile, has been speaking of his expectations in tomorrow’s Nations Cup final between Nigeria and the Stallions of Burkina Faso, his goal at the tournament and the secret of Eagles’ success at the showpiece in South Africa. Excerpts.
What is behind Super Eagles’ success so far at the Nations Cup in South Africa?
It’s God, coupled with hard work and determination. A lot of people didn’t believe in us, but we believed in ourselves. We have trust in God and we thank Him for taking us this far. By His special grace, we shall return to Nigeria with the Nations Cup trophy.
What was in your mind when you made that great dive to score against Mali in the semi-final match on Wednesday?
As you know, people don’t believe in the ability of defenders to score goals. So, I decided to take that risk to dive at full stretch to score. But it’s God that made it possible and I thank Him for all he has done for me in this competition.
When I scored that goal, I gave thanks to the Almighty One, my family and Nigerians as a whole for giving me the opportunity to serve my country.
It’s not easy when you go into a competition and people would not believe in you. But I thank God that all that has changed now for good.
What is your expectation in the final?
The game is going to be exciting. We’ve come a long way, so we’ll do our best to ensure that our making it to the final wouldn’t be in vain. No doubt, it’s going to be tough, but the God that brought us this far will not abandon us at this auspicious moment. We believe in hard work, but ultimately, everything is in God’s hands.
But to say the least, nothing, not anybody can stop the Super Eagles of Nigeria from lifting the Nations Cup trophy tomorrow. We’re united in prayers. And with Nigerians and God solidly behind us, Burkina Faso can’t stop us.
What lesson have you learnt from your participation in the Nations Cup?
In anything you do, you must believe in the power of the God Almighty because with Him, all things are possible. Again, when people try to bring you down, try and believe in yourself.
Right from the qualifiers, we believed that we would do well in the competition, but a lot of pressure was on the team. Some people simply felt that we would not do well, but thank God that we have surpassed all expectations.
The battle is not yet over. We’re done with the semi-final match and its attendant celebrations. We’ve learnt to take one game at a time. Now, our focus is on the cup and the way it is, everything is in God’s hands.
Would you have liked to meet Ghana in the final instead of Burkina Faso?
Well, we don’t have the luxury of making a choice of the opponent to play in the final. As far as I’m concerned, we’re ready to play Burkina Faso. We had the benefit of playing against the team at the group stage of the tournament, so I can say that we know a beat of their pattern of play and, therefore, cannot be intimidated. We’re not afraid of Burkina Faso.
Have you achieved the goal you set for yourself?
No, I’ve not. It’s good to play in the final of the Nations Cup and hopefully win the trophy. But after conquering Africa, we still have the World Cup qualifiers ahead of us. I’ll only be fulfilled after we might have won the cup and go ahead to qualify for the 2014 World Cup in Brazil where I hope Nigeria should also do well.