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David Tyavkase: I still take instructions from younger team mates

Former African Champions League winner with Enyimba, David Terzungwe Tyavkase has said despite his wealth of experience, he still takes instructions from his younger team…

Former African Champions League winner with Enyimba, David Terzungwe Tyavkase has said despite his wealth of experience, he still takes instructions from his younger team mates during league matches. The Lobi Stars inspirational midfielder spoke to SHOT! on how he is helping his club to win a continental ticket.

You returned from Gabon to join Lobi Stars. What informed that decision?

When I returned from Gabon, I was invited by officials of Lobi Stars to play for the club. I was not the only person who was invited as other established stars from the state were also invited to come back home. After due consultation, we decided to heed the calls with the aim of winning a continental ticket for the club. So our collective dream is to win a continental ticket for Lobi Stars.
Going by Lobi Stars position on the table with few matches to the end of the season, would you say this dream is still realisable?
I believe it is still possible because we have nine more matches to play and I feel strongly that if we remain committed, we would be able to win one of the tickets. We set out to win the league but if we fail to win the title, we must not fail to pick a ticket for continental football. We have resolved not to drop any point again.
Lobi were among the top contenders when the season started but they seem to be lagging behind now. What is happening?
When the league is very competitive, it becomes very difficult for any club to stay on top for several weeks. Even now, the top two clubs, Wikki Tourists and Rangers have continued to swap positions. So our present position on the table is not too bad for we are still within the zone for a continental ticket. All we need do is to redouble our efforts. There is no cause for alarm. Lobi Stars will fight till the final whistle.
After so many years, you are still going strongly. What is the secret?
You and I know that I started playing this game at a very tender age. I did not start late so I still have a lot of strength in me. Moreover, as a professional I know how to take care of myself. I know things that are not good for my career so I avoid them. It is all about self control. I am always conscious of what I do because I am a role model to upcoming players.
How much of inspiration are you to the younger players in Lobi Stars?
Most of them look up to me for inspiration and by the special grace of God, I have not disappointed them. I talk to them about life generally and their career. Most of them are happy that they are playing alongside me. They learn from me and I also learn from them as well. I still obey them when we are playing. Nobody knows it all.
So they respect you on and off the field of play?
Let me tell you honestly that on the field of play there is no seniority. Maybe after the match but during a match we keep aside age differences and play as a team. We listen to each other as we play. Sometimes they can call out to me to come and mark and I do that happily because we have to cooperate to win. However, they do so with the required respect. They mark for me and I mark for them as well.
Other players in your position would feel too ‘big’ to relate freely with the younger players. Why is your case different?
Naturally I am a thoroughly humble guy and by my upbringing, I have been taught to respect everybody. I hardly get upset by people’s actions and that is one of the things that have kept me going. I look at my team mates as my younger brothers and they give me my due respect. Everything I have achieved is by the grace of God. The same God will make most of them to achieve even more than me.
What is your assessment of the Nigerian league?
It is obvious that there is so much improvement in the league. The league organisers have tried so much in the area of officiating. Before now, it was difficult for clubs to win away matches but now it is happening. The referees now allow teams to play their game even if they are playing away. Secondly, there are no more cases of hooliganism. Although it cannot be completely eradicated, it has been brought down drastically. So it is now possible to see so many away wins and draws. Match venues are no more like war zones. This is good for the growth of the league.
Which other areas would you say need to be improved upon?
They have to motivate the players for them to give their best. It is a pity that most clubs don’t pay salaries regularly. Some don’t even pay match bonuses and this makes it difficult for players to put in their best. When players are paid bonuses, everybody struggle to play because if you don’t play, you won’t earn any bonus. Our league has improved but if talented players are to stay back and make the league better, they must be motivated. If the league is stable, most players will prefer to stay and play at home.
You also played in Gabon. What is your assessment of the Gabonese league?
The Gabonese league is well organised. The standard of play is also okay. They have like 14 clubs which are highly competitive. I played the best clubs in Gabon. I played for Centre de formation de football de Mounana and union Sportive de Bitam. In the Gabonese league there is nothing like home or away. Referees provide level playing field for all the teams. And another interesting thing is that the football federation sometimes supports the clubs in paying their players. Most times they go 50-50 in paying the salaries of the players. Although they pay regularly, the salary is not that much.
As a Nigerian player and former African champion, how were you rated by the Gabonese clubs you played for?
There are so many players from other African countries playing in the Gabonese league. I was just one of them but I was rated highly because of my profile and my place of origin. Nigeria is one of the powerhouses in African football so we are always respected when we play elsewhere on the continent. But I worked hard to justify the clubs’ confidence in me.
Last week Lobi earned a point away at Rangers. Did it come to you as a surprise?
Although I did not travel for the match, the result did not come to me as a surprise. Before the match, we had resolved to go for an outright win against Rangers. They had just beaten Akwa united 2-1 away and we felt that we could also beat them in Enugu. The boys did a good job by ensuring we got at least a point when it was not possible to get the three points.
Warri Wolves will be visiting this weekend. What are the expectations?
Like I said earlier, we have decided not to drop any more points especially at home. Our dream of winning a continental ticket is still alive and if we are to achieve this we must win all matches left. This may be a tough task but we are determined. So I am confident that Warri Wolves will be beaten come Sunday (tomorrow).
Your former club Enyimba are struggling to find their feet in the Champions League. How sad are you with their woeful performance?
As you are aware, Enyimba contributed a great deal in making me who I am today and it makes me sad that they are not living up to expectations in the Champions League. Before the group stage started, I had high expectations. I thought they would take the competition by storm but right from the first match against Zamalek, it has been disappointment all through. I expected them to beat Zamalek but they lost 0-1 at home and their second match against Mamelodi sundowns also ended in defeat. The two losses have left them at the brinks. I am just so disappointed.
Do you see Enyimba winning their two remaining matches?

It is looking tight for them but in football anything can happen. If they will put their acts together and win the remaining matches, they can still qualify for the semi-finals. They must not lose against Zamalek in Egypt. The Mamelodi Sundowns coach has been bragging but I don’t see them beating Enyimba in Nigeria. All that Enyimba need to do is to buckle up and take the remaining matches.

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