‘…Goal scorer’s award not my priority’
By CHIMAOBI UCHENDU
Emmanuel Emenike was on cloud nine after he helped Nigeria to send hot favourite, Cote d’Ivoire, out of the ongoing Nations Cup in South Africa with a declaration that seems to assure Nigerians of more to come from him. And of course, he did it again in the semi-final match against Mali when he scored the third goal of the match with his bullet shot from a free-kick that found the back of the net after a deflection by a Malian player.
Emenike declared: “My best is yet to come. I have always believed in my ability to lift myself from any dept and I have proved this since I was recalled to the Eagles’ squad after some months of absence. “I saw this Nations Cup as an opportunity to re-launch myself into the mainstream and I’m happy I have not disappointed myself, my family and Nigerians as a whole. It is one thing to be a good player and another thing to be recognised and appreciated by your people.
I count myself lucky because there are many more talented players than myself who are even begging for a minute to prove themselves with the national team. “Sometimes people misunderstand my mood and label me ‘arrogant’, but those who are close to me know that I am humble and an outgoing person,” he said. “Some years ago, I never thought I would don Super Eagles’ jersey, but today, I am happy with what I am doing in the national team. I am proud of my achievements so far.
My family is proud of me and my fans both at home and abroad are very proud of me. But I will say it again and again that my best has yet to come. I have a lot to give to Nigeria.
In fact, I want to break records.” He continued: “I will always do my best to get the goals whenever I am in a position to do so. My goals are possible because I get assists from my teammates. That is why I appreciate everybody’s effort in the team and together, we shall make Nigerians happy. “I have never lost my self-belief and I would still say that my best is yet to be seen.
I will keep getting better in the team and as well, scoring important goals.” Emenike said that he has no goal target for the competition, insisting that if he had thought of that, he would have been under pressure to meet the target.
The player, who is Nigeria’s highest goal scorer in the competition with four goals so far, said that his only target was to ensure that the team plays in the final of the competition and if possible, win the cup. “I don’t have any target for the tournament, but as the opportunities come, I score.
However, my ultimate goal is to make sure we continue to progress and get to the final. I believe in the team. There is unity of purpose among us, we go out to the pitch and fight together,” he said.
Emenike said that Eagles played more like a team against the Elephants of Cote d’Ivoire in the quarterfinal match on Sunday and more like it against Mali in the semi-final game on Wednesday, which Nigeria won 4–1.
“We played more like a team. We haven’t been doing that in the past, but it seems that we are getting better with every match,” he said. Emenike, who has plied his trade in Russia, Turkey, South Africa and Nigeria, said that he was happy with the goal he scored against Cote d’Ivoire, adding that he feels at home playing in South Africa. “I had scored such goals before when I was playing in a South African club. It happens like that whenever I have the opportunity to shoot.
“The first time I arrived here in South Africa, I felt at home. Most people here know me by name, they make me feel at home. I played here and I am back again,” he said of the motivation he is leveraging on having played in South Africa. Emenike played for Mpumalanga Black Aces and F.C. Cape Town, both of South Africa before moving to Turkey. The current top scorer in the ongoing competition said that his family had always encouraged him and appealed to Nigerians to continue to encourage the Super Eagles.
“My family is always behind me, they keep telling me to go out there and do my thing; that my country is watching me,” he said. “Keep believing in us and we will never put your face down by God’s grace,” he urged Nigerians. Meanwhile, former Super Eagles’ coach, Samson Siasia, has described Emenike as a complete striker whose future with the Nigerian senior team is bright. Siasia, who first capped Emenike in an international friendly match against the Lone Stars of Sierra Leone, said that the powerful striker was bound for greatness.
“I know his qualities as a striker, that was why I went ahead to cap him. I am very happy with his performances at the Nations Cup,” Siasia remarked. “I love his commitment. He is using his strength and speed well. He is a complete striker, he gets the goals and creates chances for others to score. He has all it takes to be among the best strikers in the world. He will certainly go places,” Siasia added. Emenike has scored four goals so far at the 2013 Africa Cup of Nations – one each against Burkina Faso, Zambia, Ivory Coast and Mali. But he maintained that his best was yet to come.
Coach Stephen Keshi has tipped the Spartak Moscow striker as a successor to country’s most prolific scorer, the late Rashidi Yekini. Yekini scored 37 goals for Nigeria in a 15-year international career, while Emenike is on four goals since making his debut against Sierra Leone in Lagos two years ago. Emenike, 25, has proved to be a lethal force at his various clubs, from FC Cape Town in South Africa to Karakbukspor in Turkey. He has a strong physical presence and his all-action style of play has troubled opposing defences, including those at the ongoing Nations Cup in South Africa.
His target at his first Africa Cup of Nations is to take Nigeria to her third title and first since defeating Zambia in 1994 in Tunisia.