27th June, 2011
Leading goal scorer in the Nigerian Premier League and Sunshine stars of Akure striker, Ibrahim Ajani, granted our Abuja correspondent, FRANCIS ACHI this interview after his club defeated hard-fighting Abia Warriors of Abia 1-0 to qualify for the group stage of the Federation Cup. The player speaks on varying issues, including why he shunned the Coach Austin Eguavoen’s Olympic team. Sunshine are also campaigning in the Confederation of African Football, CAF’s Confederation Cup
You are 20 and the highest goal scorer in the ongoing season, how do you feel?
At 20 and being the highest goal scorer in the Nigeria Premier League is not an easy feat. I must also say here that Iâ€™m able to attain such a feat because of the support and assistance of my teammates and the technical crew.
Which is your preferred playing position?
Iâ€™m an attacking midfielder, but sometimes I do operate from the right side of the midfield, because as a footballer you must be able to play according to the coachesâ€™ choice and instruction.
You are relatively new on the football scene, how has it been?
The ongoing season has been a fantastic one for me because I have 12 goals to my credit.
It has not been easy playing so many games this season. We are in the group stage of the CAF Confederation Cup and we are the league leaders for now.
Football is a collective effort but as an attacker, I just want to keep scoring in every match so that we can win at least a trophy this season. The Challenge Cup is very difficult; you could see that Abia Warriors, an amateur side, put up a spirited fight against us but we eventually saw them off. I just hope and pray that we should keep winning our games, though it will be very difficult to win every game especially in the league.
Does your team has what it takes to win the league this season?
Yes, we can win the league. We are topping the league now and that does not mean that the league had been won. Coach Gbenga Ogunbote has instructed us to give 100 per cent concentration and total dedication in every game we play. We will not underrate any team, whether they are in the relegation zone or our rivals for the crown.
Which teams do you think are your main rivals for the coveted crown?
Dolphins of Port Harcourt, Warri Wolves and Enyimba are also very tough sides this season.
Can Sunshine win the CAF Confederation Cup?
We can win the competition. There are so many good players in our team and if we remain injury-free and there is fair officiating in all our matches, the cup can land in Nigeria. We are determined to go far.
It was gathered that you went for trials in Israel, what is the latest on it?
I went to Maccabi Haifa of Israel last month. It was a good experience for me. Although when I got there, the league was over. Hopefully, next month I will go back.
Are there signs that you may seal a deal?
Yes Iâ€™m heading back to conclude the deal.
How many years contract are you expecting to sign?
Three years is okay for me.
So you still have about 15 years in the game?
Yes. 15 years and I hope to improve in every game.
You were once invited to the Dream Team V, Olympic Eagles by Austin Egwavoen. What really happened that the coach did not invite you again?
I was happy when Coach Austin Eguavoen invited me to the team. When I got to the camp, the technical crew instructed me to play from right full back during training sessions. I felt being played out of place in the team because as an attacker, playing from right back was very strange to me. I wanted to complain to coach Eguavoen but I felt there was no need. So the best thing was to leave the camp.
You played from right full back?
Yes. It was very awkward position for me. That was the reason I left the camp.
But how do you see the Dream Team V Olympic Eagles?
Unfortunately I have not watched most of their matches because of our League games. As they are playing, we are also playing our league matches, but I wish them success.