Ahead of today’s final group game against Madagascar, Super Eagles stand-in captain, Ahmed Musa speaks to Sunsports/SportingSun on the ongoing Africa Cup of Nations (AFCON), so far, as well as the team’s readiness to make Nigerians proud by winning their fourth title in Egypt. He also revealed why his late mother was buried in Edo State and how Allah (God) directed him to help a woman in Asaba, recently.
What’s your impression of the Super Eagles’ performance so far in this competition?
It has been good so far. We won the last two games and in the last group game, we are going for a win. We are not going to say because we have qualified, we sleep and toy with Madagascar.
Is there any team that can stop the Super Eagles in this competition?
Musa: African football is very hard now, you can’t underrate any team. But we are working very hard to win each game we play. Let’s look at our performances against Burundi and Guinea. So far, we have managed to score one goal in each of the games while Nigerians back home expected you to score more goals against these two teams. Why is this so?
You see, football is no longer like that. It’s easier to talk when you are not playing, but when you get into real action you’ll know its not that easy. The most important thing is winning; either one goal or 20-0. The most important thing is the three points. As you can see, the important thing is the three points from the two matches. We are working hard for the goals to start coming, but like I said, the most important thing is the points; it doesn’t matter the number of goals you score, winning is the ultimate. We are improving with each game. We are going to work on our scoring ability.
I recall the whole of Nigeria was shutdown because of your goals at the World Cup in Russia, especially against Argentina. With that in mind, every Nigerian expects Ahmed Musa to start scoring goals in this competition, what is happening?
For me, I feel very happy scoring those goals in Russia. That memory is still in my head, but I have to forget about Russia and concentrate on this tournament. I’m working very hard in this tournament to start scoring. I will keep on doing my best, and when the goals will come, they will come.
The last time we won the AFCON was in 2013, and, afterwards, we failed to qualify for the last two editions. Do you think Nigeria can win this tournament?
Before 2013, when we won, we had not participated like a decade. After that, we failed to qualify, but, now, we are here, anything can happen. We believe in ourselves that we can make that happen again; we are going to do our best.
How is your relationship with John Obi Mikel?
He’s my senior man. I watched him play when I was in Jos. We grew up together in the same area in Jos. So, my relationship with him is very cordial. I give him that respect because he’s my captain, and he advised me a lot when I joined the national team. So, there is a good relationship between both of us.
In the first match against Burundi, the Super Eagles struggled, and when you were introduced the game changed, and we got the goal. What motivated the change in the performance after you were introduced?
It was the first game of the tournament, and first games are not always easy, they are usually difficult. Anyway, as you can see, the weather is very difficult for us. And when we came in, most of the boys were tired. In any tournament, the first game is always very difficult, but the most important is that we got the three points.
How do you think about the new lad in the team, Samuel Chukwueze. What do you see in him now and in future?
I think we have a very good future Super Eagles. As you can see, he’s just coming up. It’s not too long he joined the Super Eagles and for him to make this tournament means there is future for the national team. I know it’s not that easy for a young lad like him to break into the team, but I know that in future, Nigerians will enjoy him.
Recently, you lost your mum and she was buried in Edo State. What is your affinity with the state?
Yes, my mum came from Edo State, and always visit there because it’s part of me. My relationship with Edo State is not going to end because of the death of my mum. I love the state because my mum came from there and I will always go back there.
What’s this thing about Ahmed Musa; there was a woman you surprised with a cash gift in Asaba, and here in Alexandria, all the taxi drivers you meet shout your name?
For me, I don’t think there is anything special about me. There is nothing I’m doing that nobody hasn’t done before. In Asaba, I just helped the woman because she was in need. It’s my nature to give, and I don’t make noise about it. I didn’t give to the Asaba woman because of what people would say; I saw that she was in need and Allah directed me to her. It’s because I have the means, and the capacity to help her; that’s why I did that.
Post retirement, what’s your plan? To flout a foundation, go into coaching, etc?
For me, I’m the type who doesn’t like to show off in anything I do, and that’s why I don’t want to set up any foundation using the name, Ahmed Musa. I just do things on my own as directed by Allah. I don’t have to do something that people will say oh! Ahmed Musa is the one doing this or that. I like doing my things without any publicity.
After football I will just go back home to stay with my family, have time with them. I’ve never had enough time to stay with them because I’m always traveling. Even when we are on holidays we are in the national team. So, after football, I just go back home, relax with my family. I don’t want to engage in anything football like coaching and the stuff, just business. When I retire, I wouldn’t want to have anything doing with football anymore.
How will I give everything for football and still continue after retirement? Football always comes with pressure. I will just be playing for fun, not go into coaching or becoming an agent.
What’s your target as a footballer?
My number one target in Africa is to win the Nations Cup, and I’ve won that. My second target is to win it again, and the last target, Insha Allah, is to go to the World Cup in Qatar, if I’m still strong, and to win it.