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I couldn’t sleep over our loss to Madagascar, says Ezenwa


Nigeria’s goalkeeper, Ikechukwu Ezenwa (right) foils a goal attempt by Madagascar’s Faneva Andriatsima during their 2019 African Cup of Nations Group B match at the Alexandria Stadium…on Sunday. PHOTOS: AFP

• ‘Poor management kills most Nigerian players’
Super Eagles goalkeeper, Ikechukwu Ezenwa has revealed that he stayed awake for several hours after conceding two goals to Madagascar in Sunday’s last group match in the on-going Egypt 2019 African Cup of Nations.Like Madagascar making their first appearance in the competition, Sunday’s match at the Alexandria stadium was Ezenwa’s first appearance in the African Nations Cup. It was also his first defeat keeping for the senior national team.
He told The Guardian at the team’s Helnan Palestine Hotel in Alexandria yesterday that he was forced to stay awake reflecting on what transpired on the pitch in the night after the defeat.“I really felt bad and couldn’t sleep after the game,” Ezenwa told The Guardian. “To be honest, I stayed awake till 4.30 am thinking on what went wrong. The match against Madagascar was my first Afcon appearance and you can imagine the trauma I went through that night.

“To make things worse, the two goals I conceded on Sunday was my first defeat since I started keeping for the Super Eagles. I really felt bad, but that is football. You never can say what will happen the next moment. And that is why you have to prepare well for every game. The defeat to Madagascar was a rude shock to us, and we learnt some bitter lessons from that match. We have to move on,” Ezenwa stated.


Ezenwa, who began his football career with  Ocean Boys FC of Yenagoa, Bayelsa State, was picked for the match against Madagascar ahead of Daniel Akpeyi, who kept in the two games against Burundi and Guinea, which the Eagles won 1-0 respectively..Ezenwa also played club football for FC IfeanyiUbah, Heartland FC of Owerri and Enyimba of Aba before switching to Katsina FC. He made his debut for the Super Eagles in September 2015.
He told The Guardian yesterday that they have put the defeat to Madagascar behind. “We have to plan for the coming matches, particularly the round of 16 game on Saturday. There is no room for amendment if you lose in the knock out stage, so we have to put everything in that game. All the players know the big task ahead of us, and I am very sure we have a capable squad.”
In 2007, Ezenwa was part of the Flying Eagles team to the FIFA U-20 World Cup in Canada. He joined Heartland FC the next year, where he kept for three successive seasons, appearing in 61 games until 2011.He was also part of coach Samson Siasia’s U-23 squad to Beijing 2008 Olympics team.
As at the time of this interview yesterday morning, Super Eagles’ opponent for the round of 16 match had not emerge, but it later became known that the Super Eagles would face the Indomitable Lions of Cameroun. Whichever team Nigeria would meet, Ezenwa said yesterday there was no cause for worry. “Ghana or Cameroun, we will reach the quarterfinal on Saturday, and we have a strong team that can win this Afcon title.”
Ezenwa, who was born in 1988 in Yenagoa, also spoke on why some Nigerian players don’t make progress playing in the domestic league. “Mismanagement of funds kills most Nigerian players. If you cannot manage the little money you receive, but continue to look forward to more, you can’t do well as a footballer in the local league.” He continues: “You must save for the rainy day because as a footballer, what you have in your savings matters a lot. It gives you that mental fitness to perform on the field of play. A footballer needs both mental and physical fitness to perform well.”

He revealed how his parents (late) fought over his decision to become a footballer. “My father actually wanted me to go to school, but my mother stood her ground that I should carry on my football career. They always had that argument, and those were some of the things that made me strong in my early days as a footballer.“I was brought up by parents who had the fear of God. I don’t look down on any person and I don’t backbite,” he stated.
Ezenwa said he wants to win the Afcon title, adding that his target is to play professional football for a big club in Europe or Asia soon. Like his teammate, Ahmed Musa, Ezenwa has ruled himself out of the coaching profession when he finally retires from active football.
The goalkeeper revealed that it took him two years chasing his wife, Amaka, who he met in Owerri, Imo State. They got married in October 2013. “She remains the pillar in my football career, and I am grateful, particularly for her continuous prayer and good caring for me, our children and members of our family.”

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