The countdown to the World Cup in Russia is getting faster and the Super Eagles are not left behind as countries fine-tune their preparation for the Mundial.
Over the international break, the Super Eagles played two friendly games against Poland and Serbia with the two test matches producing different results.
As PREMIUM TIMES continue to weigh in on the chances of Nigeria at the 2018 World Cup, it speaks with another ex-international, Ben Iroha.
Enjoy excerpts here…
PT: How would you rate the preparation of Nigeria for the World Cup and does the preparation give you any form of motivation that the country will do well in Russia?
Iroha: I feel confident and comfortable that the boys will do very well. The preparations have been good, so far so good, they have had some good friendly matches and for a couple of years, they have been together with the new coach, so I am confident they will do well.
PT: Nigeria has never gone past the second round in the World Cup since USA ’94 when you and your teammates took the world by storm. What do you think is responsible of this?
Iroha: It was a different team that went to USA ’94. We stayed together for five years, that was from ’89 when Westerhof took over for the 1990 Nations Cup. The thing is that you cannot do miracle or magic overnight. Now the coach is doing well, getting the players together. Even if they don’t go that far in this one, if they stay together, they will go far. I am confident of these boys and the coach is doing ok.
PT: Let us look at the left-back position you played for the Super Eagles, it seems to be one of the problematic positions in this present set-up, what do you think can be done to solve the problem?
Iroha: These days, you don’t need a natural left back to play for you in left back, you just need a winger; somebody that can play like a midfielder; who will go forward and move back quickly as well. In those days, we played like midfielders, so it is about giving the player confidence.
The coach will look around and find the right person for the job. It doesn’t need to even be a natural left footer. Look at what is happening with Ashley Young in Manchester United, right-footed player playing left back and doing it very well. So he just needs to look around for that person who has that kind of movement with energy. That person would fit the bill at left back.
PT: Looking at Group D of the World Cup where the Eagles will be playing from, what are the chances of Nigeria against the trio of Croatia, Iceland, and Argentina?
Iroha: My brother, it is open. These our boys will do well, I won’t tell you that we would be first or second, but we will do well and we will have a big chance of qualifying because the group is open.
These boys have played Argentina and we know Argentina. That may be our toughest obstacle, but we would go through.
Like I said earlier, in football anything can happen, and it is open but I am tipping one of the African nations to go all the way.
PT: It has been a while since we heard from Iroha, what have you been up to since you quit playing football?
Iroha: Right now, Ben Iroha has taken a break from football and has returned to personal business. When the opportunity presents itself again, I will take up my passion again.
Football remains a vital part of me and I would always do my best to contribute meaningfully in any capacity I can.
PT: We are very grateful for the audience.
Iroha: It was a pleasure, regards to all my fans, let’s keep supporting our team in every way we can , by God’s grace they will do us all proud in Russia. Thank You!