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Daniel Agwaza: Fatigue responsible for Yobe Desert Stars away losses

Yobe Desert Stars young defender, Daniel Aondoyima Agwaza has blamed his team’s defeats in three of their four away matches on fatigue which he said…

Yobe Desert Stars young defender, Daniel Aondoyima Agwaza has blamed his team’s defeats in three of their four away matches on fatigue which he said is caused by the long trips from Damaturu to honour such matches. He, however said the Stars from Yobe won’t have anything to do with relegation in the 2018 NPFL season.


How did you start your football career?

I was introduced to football at a tender age by my elder brother Manasseh Agwaza who is presently in Lobi Stars of Makurdi. He started before me so when I indicated interest, he took me to his coach in Bolaji Boys FC of Gboko. I trained there till the club was disbanded. From there, I joined Aspire Academy still in Gboko. When the chairman of Aspire could not cope with the running of the academy, I left to join Young Stars of Gboko from where I went for trials in Yobe Desert Stars in 2016. So I joined Yobe Stars in 2016 when they were in amateur and we were promoted back to the NPFL at the end of the 2017 season. Actually, this is my first season in the Nigerian topflight.

Did your parents support your decision to play professional football?

It was a tough one for me. Although they did not stop me in the beginning, when what they expected was not forthcoming, they changed their mind that I should leave football and go to school. There was so much pressure on my elder brother that he had to go and tell our coach to stop featuring me in training. He advised me to listen to our parents but I told him about my passion for the game. I reminded him that he introduced me to football so I must play the game. I did not give up and I can say I have no single regret.

So will it be right to say your elder brother chose the game of football for you?

Not really. I have passion for football so my elder brother only encouraged me to start playing. It may interest you to know that my father was also a football player. So I can say football runs in the family. Our parents are now happy that we are doing very well in our football career.

You said this is your first season in the NPFL. How is the experience like? 

It is an amazing experience and I am very happy about it. I attribute my success so far to God almighty who gives the strength, grace and favour. Without God, this wouldn’t have been possible. Today I am one of the youngest players in the NPFL and I return all glory to God.

Could you share your experience in your first match against FC IfeanyiUbah?

Honestly, I did not play as if I was making my debut in the topflight. It was as if I was training with my club. I felt no tension and the way I played made many to think I was used to playing in the NPFL. Had it been there is anything like team of the match, I would have made the list. My performance against FC IfeanyiUbah fired me up and that is why I have featured in all the matches Yobe Stars have played this season.

Which match would you say is Yobe Desert Stars best match so far?

By my own assessment, our match against Heartland in Owerri which ended 1-1 is so far our best match. As a matter of fact, I can say I put up my best performance in that match.

From the seven matches played, which one would you say is Yobe Stars worst match?

 I can’t say we have a worst match yet but we were supposed to win our opening match against FC IfeanyiUbah in Nnewi. We dominated play but in the end, we lost the match 1-2. I believe the worst result in that match should have been a draw.

How are you coping with the new role assigned to you by your technical adviser Baba Ganaru?

Actually I started my career as an attacking winger but my coach now plays me as a wing back. I am enjoying it because it is almost the same thing. The only thing is that one has to be defensive conscious at all times. You don’t move forward and forget yourself there. You have to always remember your primary responsibility when defending. I am comfortable playing there because I am like a utility player and can play anywhere.

As a wing back, who is your most difficult opponent so far in the NPFL?

My most difficult opponent in the league for now is Cletus Itodo of Lobi Stars. When we played against Lobi Stars in Damaturu he gave me tough time. I was not expecting anything less than that because he is a legend. Having played for almost all the big clubs in the league, he is one of the most experienced players around. It was not easy for both of us because he too didn’t find it easy each time he came up against me.

How are you and your team mates coping with the long trips from Damaturu by road to honour away matches?

It has not been easy. There are some away matches we shouldn’t have lost but before we got there, we were already tired. And in most cases, before we travel back to play our home matches, it becomes even worse. Most of the goals we have scored at home came in the second half because that is normally when we shake off fatigue. We struggle in the first half but play better in the second half. We are hoping that the sports loving governor of Yobe State will come to our aid so that we can also travel by air to honour some away matches. So our away losses have been due to fatigue.

How confident are you that Yobe Desert Stars won’t struggle against relegation?

It will interest you to know that it is only the club that is just back to the topflight. Most of the players in Yobe Stars are not new to the league. We have quality players in the team. So even if other clubs gained promotion and were relegated immediately, it won’t happen to Yobe Desert Stars. We are not the type that will come and drop back immediately.

With the progress you have made, how soon do you hope to play for Nigeria?

Like any other professional player, it is my desire to play for Nigeria and I will be happy to start with any of the junior national teams. I am 19 years old and I look at the Flying Eagles as the place to start my international career. However, if I am given a chance in the next Home-based Super Eagles, I will be most grateful. I know that if I keep doing my best, it will happen sooner than later.

What’s your dream club in Europe?

Although I do not support Arsenal, I will be happy to play for the Gunners because of the way they pay football. I like their football culture. It may surprise you to know that I support Birmingham city FC in the English Championship.

How much would you say you have benefitted from playing football?

I have benefitted a lot from football because everything I have today is from football. I don’t have any other business. If I could wear a slippers of N200, it is football. So I thank God for his blessings. I believe that by the grace of God, I can achieve more.

What is your assessment of the Nigeria Professional Football League?

The league is growing very fast under the League Management Company. There have been lots of positive innovations that have made the league to become more interesting and competitive. However, since there is no human organisation that is perfect, the LMC can still think of ways to deal with some of the problems that are refusing to go. I give kudos to the referees but they can do better. Once a level playing field is provided at all venues, we shall have worthy representatives in continental competitions.

If you have a single wish at the moment, what would that be?

I wish to play against my elder brother, Manasseh. He is in Lobi Stars of Makurdi. He introduced me to football and it will be a thing of joy to play against him in the NPFL.

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