Iheanacho: Nigerians Can Count On Me

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Manchester City forward, Kelechi Iheanacho is relishing the prospect of leading Nigeria’s Super Eagles’ charge towards FIFA World Cup Russia 2018.

The CAF 2013 Youth Player of the Year has been in excellent for his English Premier League side and only recently scored his first competitive international goal against Tanzania in the qualifier for next year’s African Cup of Nations which will be held in Gabon sans Nigeria.

Speaking exclusively with CAFOnline.com, Iheanacho who turned 20 on October 3, says he was ready to produce his rich vein of form with club for country when the Super Eagles open their 2018 World Cup account against Zambia this weekend at the Levy Mwanawasa Stadium in Ndola; and he insists the Eagles have the required experience to upstage the Chipolopolo at their backyard. Below are excerpts of his interview;

Cafonline.com: How will you describe your steady progress under Pep Guardiola at Manchester City?
Kelechi Iheanacho:
Everyone knows what Guardiola can offer, and I’m happy he came to Manchester city. He’s a great coach with great qualities. Guardiola is a great manager everybody knows and I’m happy to be part of his team. I’m really improving under him and I hope to work more anytime I get the chance to play.

The Super Eagles missed the ticket to the Africa Cup of Nations in Gabon next year. How will this serve as motivation as you begin campaign for the 2018 World Cup group phase qualifiers?
It’s unfortunate we missed out on the 2017 AFCON but we are not out of everything. We have all put that behind us and our focus is on the next games. We have to take that as a lesson and come back stronger to qualify for the World Cup. I will also work hard for my country as an individual; and we are going to put in all hard work collectively as a team.

What are the chances of the Super Eagles against Zambia next week? There is also Cameroon and Algeria in the group?
It’s an away game for us and is going to be a difficult one. We have great players that will make the difference against Zambia. We have to overcome Zambia first before we can talk about Cameroon and Algeria. However, it’s not going to be easy and nobody knows what’s going to happen. We will keep fighting as a team to get to the World Cup.

What will be playing at the 2018 World Cup mean to you?
To play in the FIFA World Cup will be a dream come true for me and is going to help my career as a player too.

Three years ago, you were voted the Most Valuable Player at the FIA U-17 World Cup and you were rewarded with the CAF Youth Player of the year same year. How has it helped you to get to this present level?
It was a great achievement for me and it helped me to improve my career as a footballer. I hope to work harder and win more awards.

Source: CAF online

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