Barn­abas Imenger: Su­per Ea­gles are con­demned to beat Knights of Libya

Weekly Trust - - Trust Sports - A former in­ter­na­tional and Team Man­ager of Lobi Stars, Barn­abas Imenger has said the Su­per Ea­gles are left with no op­tion than to beat Libya in to­day’s AF­CON qual­i­fier in Uyo. The former BCC Lions and El-Kanemi War­riors striker also spoke to Trust Sports

What are your ex­pec­ta­tions from the Su­per Ea­gles are they get set to bat­tle Libya in the 2019 AF­CON qual­i­fier in Uyo? The Su­per Ea­gles are con­demned to win this match. They have to beat Libya so as to im­prove their po­si­tion on the ta­ble. Where they are at the mo­ment on the ta­ble is not good enough. The coach needs to get his tac­tics and game plan in or­der so that at the end of the day, we shall come out vic­to­ri­ous.

I think the play­ers we have, at African level, I think they are okay. It is only at the world level that we have se­ri­ous prob­lems. We are not yet there at the world level as was seen at the 2018 World Cup in Rus­sia. At the African level, we are among the best teams. How­ever, this is not enough for the Su­per Ea­gles to un­der­mine the Libyans. The North Africans are tricky cus­tomers. More­over, they too have to win to main­tain the mo­men­tum.

You will agree with me that there is al­ways a prob­lem when you don’t start a com­pe­ti­tion on a sound foot­ing. In our open­ing match of the group, we al­lowed South Africa to come and beat us at home. So the Ea­gles need to bounce back. Ea­gles are pro­fes­sion­als. They are ply­ing their trade in some of the best leagues in the world. So they know that when a team is down, they need to be counted. They need to rise up as true pro­fes­sion­als so as to be counted. They must fight and fight and fight to the end so as claim one of the tick­ets to the 2019 AF­CON. This is what I will tell the play­ers.

The team will miss him greatly. Such a big player, def­i­nitely they are go­ing to miss him. He is not only a big player, he con­trib­utes so much to the team. His work rate is su­perb. His tech­nique is won­der­ful. He has high work rate. His com­mit­ment and con­tri­bu­tions to the team is ex­em­plary. We are go­ing to miss him. How­ever, other play­ers who are there should take the op­por­tu­nity. His ab­sence should be op­por­tu­nity for another star to rise.

Vic­tor Moses is too young a player to re­tire from the na­tion team. He has age on his side. At 28 years, I doubt if he re­tired as a re­sult of age. I think he took that de­ci­sion be­cause of some rea­sons we are yet to know. The NFF cer­tainly shouldn’t get an­gry and say to hell with him, no. That is not the way to do it. It won’t take us any­where. They should try to find out from him his rea­sons for quit­ting and if pos­si­ble, try to see how they can con­vince him to come back and con­tinue with his ser­vices to the coun­try. For now, we need Moses. We need him be­cause his pres­ence in the team al­ways brings some­thing spe­cial. So as an ex-in­ter­na­tional, I am ad­vis­ing the NFF to con­vince Moses to re­turn. He is our son and if he is cry­ing over an is­sue, they should lis­ten and of­fer ad­vice ac­cord­ingly.

Well, if you look at our per­for­mances since the league started, for over four months, we were on top of the league ta­ble. So if cri­sis came some­where and the league ended the way it did and we are crowned cham­pi­ons, I think we are wor­thy cham­pi­ons. For us to have stayed on top for four months, it means we have some­thing in us that was bet­ter and big­ger than our op­po­nents. There is this ar­gu­ment that if the league had con­tin­ued, maybe we would have lost some matches be­cause other club were clos­ing in on us. Of course, the league is like a marathon. As it pro­gresses, some­times the gap closes, some­times it widens. But I can tell you with­out any sen­ti­ment that at the level we were play­ing, even if the re­main­ing matches were played, we would have still won the ti­tle. So for me, with­out sound­ing im­mod­est, I think we are wor­thy cham­pi­ons.

We have a very big chal­lenge at hand. If you study the his­tory of Nigerian clubs’ par­tic­i­pa­tion in the CAF Cham­pi­ons league, I don’t think any club has reached the group stage in the past five years. I stand to be cor­rected. We are plan­ning and work­ing very hard to make sure that we over­come what is now be­com­ing a jinx now. The in-thing now is good plan­ning and hard work. By the grace of God, we shall get to the group stage and maybe be­yond. We don’t want to fall by the way side like the other teams.

Well, I must say Lobi Stars have never had it so good like it is hap­pen­ing un­der the ad­min­is­tra­tion of His Ex­cel­lency, Dr. Samuel Or­tom. I want you to know that our monthly sub­ven­tion that covers salaries and run­ning of matches has been placed on first line charge. The club has been en­joy­ing tremen­dous sup­port from the gov­er­nor who is an ar­dent foot­ball fan and that is why the is­sue of salary is not a prob­lem in Lobi. Not long ago, the gov­er­nor gave ap­proval for all our out­stand­ing al­lowances to be paid. That is why we also worked hard to re­ward him, the gov­ern­ment and peo­ple of Benue State. As we talk, a com­mit­tee has been raised by gov­ern­ment to source for ad­di­tional funds for us to pros­e­cute the Cham­pi­ons league. As you know, play­ing in the Cham­pi­ons League is a dif­fer­ent ball game. It is cap­i­tal in­ten­sive so we need fi­nan­cial sup­port more than what we get in the do­mes­tic league. I can tell you and as­sure you that the Benue State gov­ern­ment is putting in every­thing to en­sure that money is not our prob­lem in prose­cut­ing the CAF Cham­pi­ons League.

Su­per Ea­gles vice-cap­tain, Ahmed Musa cel­e­brates after scor­ing his first goal against Ice­land at the 2018 World Cup in Rus­sia.

Barn­abas Imenger

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