Q&A with Obiora Nwankwo

Super Eagles midfielder, Obiora Nwankwo believes Nigeria will shock the world at the ongoing Fifa Confederations Cup in Brazil.Obiora who was part of the Super Eagles side that won the 2013 Africa Cup of Nations in South Africa is banking on the surprise element and the “unique skills” of the players to carry them to glory in Brazil.

The midfielder, in this chat with supersport.com also discussed his situation at Romanian club, CFR Cluj where he spent part of the 2012/13 season on loan and a bit of his personal life.

supersport.com: You have been in Nigeria for awhile. How has the summer holidays gone for you?

Obiora Nwankwo: I had a very quiet time with my family for most part. I did nothing flash or extravagant (laughs). I will be leaving for Europe in the coming days.

supersport.com: So what are the lined up activities of your club for the pre-season?

Obiora Nwankwo: Well, I don’t know yet. It depends on the ongoing negotiations between my mother clubs (Internazionale and AC Parma) and the Romanian club (CFR Cluj) where I spent half of the season on loan.

supersport.com: You finished as runner up with Cluj last season in the Romanian Cup, how painful was it to lose out in the final?

Obiora Nwankwo: It was really disappointing considering the fact that it would have booked us a place in Europe next season. I was looking forward to adding another piece of silverware to the Nations cup gold medal I won in February. It didn’t work out that way, unfortunately.

supersport.com: You sound so passionate and attached to Cluj. I have a haunch you wouldn’t mind another season in Eastern Europe.

Obiora Nwankwo: Every young football player wants to play and that was what CFR Cluj offered me. Things weren’t working out well in Italy so thought I needed a change. And I had a satisfying half season with them so yes, I wouldn’t mind another season with CFR Cluj.

supersport.com: It’s usually very cold in Romania for most parts of the year and the language; you spent just half of last season on loan at Cluj, how are you coping?

Obiora Nwankwo; The weather difference between Italy and Romania is not that much. So the weather wasn’t much of a problem to me.

And in Romania 85% of the people speak other languages with English coming first. So it was a kind of easy to get integrated.

As for the food, sincerely I didn’t taste any if the Romanian delicacies while I was there.

I was used to the Italian pasta which u can find everywhere.

supersport.com: what are your thoughts about the performances of the Super Eagles after the first game at the Confederation Cup against Tahiti?

Obiora Nwankwo; I think we had a decent game against Tahiti although some people think it could have been better but generally it was a decent game.

We just need to step it up a bit against Uruguay and we are there.

supersport.com: You know Stephen Keshi very well. What do you think he would have told the boys after the game against Tahiti and how would he ask them to approach the game against Uruguay?

Obiora Nwankwo; I think he would have commended the lads and yet talked about the missed opportunities we had. He would have asked them to up their game against Uruguay and also ask them to try to make use of whatever chances that come our way.

supersport.com: Be honest. Spain, Italy and Brazil are all competing. Can we win the entire thing in Brazil?

Obiora Nwankwo; Hahahaha. That’s a difficult one. Well I am not sure about Spain but I think Italy and Brazil are beatable. If we can get through to the semis, we can get something out of the tournament.
supersport.com: You were a super regular before the Afcon in South Africa. What happened at the tournament? U didn’t play as often as we expected you would.

Obiora Nwankwo: (pauses) I have been asked that question before.

Keshi is a great coach and all great coaches sometimes are faced with difficult decisions as regards who plays and who doesn’t.

I have always respected the decisions of all my coaches. The most important thing is not who plays but that the team wins.

Every professional footballer knows that. I supported my teammates even when I was not playing am I am pleased we won the trophy eventually.

supersport.com: So, did you believe (before the tournament) that Nigeria would win the trophy in South Africa?

Obiora Nwankwo; Funny enough, yes,I believed!

supersport.com: Even when we were not rated amongst the pre tournament favourites?

Obiora Nwankwo; I thought the only obstacle we might have would be Ivory Coast but it turned out to be the easiest game we played.

supersport.com: You said you felt the Ivory Coast would be the only obstacle. When it was revealed that Nigeria would indeed face the Ivorians in the quarter finals, what were your immediate reactions?

Obiora Nwankwo; I was not worried because I knew we would meet them eventually though I felt we would clash during either the semi final or the final.

supersport.com: Who is your best friend in the Super Eagles?

Obiora Nwankwo; That would be my roommate at the Nations cup, Kenneth Omeruo.

The funny thing is I didn’t know him before the tournament. I eventually got to know he’s a nice person.

supersport.com: Who is your best friend outside football?

Obiora Nwankwo; Strangely, I don’t keep many friends outside football. My best friend outside the game is my elder brother.

supersport.com: Tell us about your best food?

Obiora Nwankwo; I never joke with my pounded yam with bitter leave soup and goat meat. Any chilled drink and the equation is balanced. (Laughs loudly)

supersport.com: How many cars do you have and which is your dream car?

Obiora Nwankwo: I have just two cars. I am not a car freak. In Nigeria, I move around in an Infinity fx45 and an Audi A5 in Europe

supersport.com: Who is the woman in your life?

Obiora Nwankwo: (laughs uncontrollably) You really expect me to tell you this? (laughs again)

supersport.com: Ofcourse you will.

Obiora Nwankwo; (Laughs even harder) Ok, let me put it this way. I don’t really have one at moment but I am seeing someone. It’s not official. She’s white…not a Nigerian. They don’t know about it yet…but that wouldn’t be for long because my dad’s definitely going to read this article. (Laughs)

supersport.com: What career would you have pursue if you were not a footballer?

Obiora Nwankwo; I wanted to become a chartered accountant.

supersport.com: what would you want to be remembered for after you hang up your boots?

Obiora Nwankwo; I want to be remembered for my contributions towards humanity and also for the part I played in making the world a better place.

I also want to be remembered among the first set of Nigerians to win the Fifa World Cup and with this generation of players, I honestly believe we can.

supersport.com: Any favourite pets?

Obiora Nwankwo; I love dogs but I don’t own any.

supersport.com: Why is that?

Obiora Nwankwo; My landlord in Romania does not permit his tenants to keep pets and in Nigeria, my Mum does not like dogs.

supersport.com: What would you do if you stumbled on $500 million USD.

Obiora Nwankwo; First, I’d faint then. I have never really given it a thought to be honest. But now that I have the heads up, I will invest in lots of landed properties. I will help out those in the orphanages and will stack up the rest in the bank.

supersport.com: Thanks Obiora for your time.

Obiora Nwankwo; The pleasure was actually mine supersport.com. Thank you for this honour.

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