Akwa United FC strong defender, Samson Gbadebo has said he is greatly motivated by the recent invitation of the trio of John Noble, Anayo Iwuala (Enyimba) and Adekunle Adeleke (Abia Warriors) for the Super Eagles’ 2021 AFCON Qualifiers against Benin Republic and Lesotho. The former Nasarawa United, Lobi Stars, Enyimba and Rivers United player also spoke to Trust Sports on his ambition to win the NPFL title with his present club.
How satisfied are you with your performance for Akwa United in the ongoing NPFL season?
I am glad that we are doing everything as a united family to meet our target which is to win the NPFL title. However, I can’t say that I am completely satisfied because after playing 17 matches, we are yet to be where we want to be. We still have a long way to go but we are not giving up. I will be satisfied only when we lift the league title. Having said this, I want to say I am grateful to God for what we have achieved so far.
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What would you say is responsible for the impressive results of Akwa United in recent matches?
I will say we simply changed our approach to matches. We actually struggled when the league started but we have steadied our ship. Our recent performances have given us the needed confidence to dream big. This is why we are talking about winning the league. We want to build on what we have achieved in terms of results. I believe that at the end of the season, we would meet our target of continental football.
In view of what you have said, you must be very proud of the away win in your last match at MFM of Lagos…
It was a sweet victory but it didn’t come on a platter of gold. We were made to work for the three points. Usually, it is difficult to win away from home but we were determined to get the win. And another good thing is that officiating was fair. With the level playing field, it was possible for us to win at MFM.
What would be your assessment of the general performance of referees in the NPFL?
There is tremendous improvement. We have played 17 matches and we lost only three. Before now, this wouldn’t have been possible. Playing away was like losing automatically. It was hard to win away from home. This is gradually changing because the referees are being fair to all the clubs. I feel they should be commended. As human beings, they are bound to err once in a while but overall, they are doing great and should keep it up.
How much motivation are Akwa United enjoying from the management of the club?
The management committee members are trying their best to make us happy and that is why we are also committed to giving the club our best. You will agree with me that Akwa United are among the top contenders for the NPFL title.
Only recently Akwa United were involved in a ghastly road accident on their way to Lagos. What do you think is the solution to the hazardous road trips by NPFL clubs?
All of us are Nigerians and we know how bad our roads are. Therefore, if the League Management Company or the management of each club will go into partnership with airlines to enable us travel for away matches by air, it will seriously reduce the risks we face week in week out covering long distances by road. I believe apart from saving lives, we would be motivated to play better football.
What is your take on the recent invitation of the trio of John Noble, Anayo Iwuala and Adekunle Adeleke to the Super Eagles?
It is a welcome development. I am happy because it shows that our league is improving. I just pray that they will continue to invite domestic league players to the national team. I am greatly inspired by this development. It is good for the morale and confidence of players in the NPFL.
What is your advice to the players as they prepare to make their debuts in the Super Eagles?
They are all talented players who are on top of their game so they should do everything possible to justify the confidence reposed in them by the coach. They are now our ambassadors. If they do well, they will open the door for others to go into the Super Eagles.
How soon do you think you will be given the much needed opportunity to play for the Super Eagles?
Very soon, I will play for the super Eagles. I am confident about this because home based players are being considered again for the national team. I was once there with the Home-Based Super Eagles so I have an idea of what it means to be in the national team. With my performance and the position of my club in the league, I am sure someone is watching me.
You have played for a number of clubs in the NPFL. Where did you have your most memorable moment?
My most memorable moment was in Nasarawa United where I played continental football. I am confident that I will have the same pleasurable moment in Akwa United because we are among the title contenders.