The captain of the victorious Super Eagles, Joseph Yobo spoke to Salifu Usman about his views on the concluded 2013 Africa Cup of Nations (AFCON) and said he plans to retire from the national team after 2014 FIFA World Cup in Brazil. Excerpts
Before the tournament, did Yobo really believed Nigeria will win the tropht?
When we all came to camp, we talked and laughed about things because we knew that nobody will believe that we will win the tournament. The eyes of the people were on Cote d’Ivoire, Ghana or Zambia to win the tournament. But we the players and the coaching crew believed in ourselves because that is the basis of coming to the tournament.
If you don’t believe in yourself that you can do it, then what is the need of going into a tournament that you know you can’t win? When you are coming for a tournament, you are coming with a mindset of doing your best and see what happens afterwards. We knew that if we qualify from the group stage, we are going to go far.
Even though things didn’t start well for us as people expected at the beginning of the competition, we never lost our confidence because it was one game at a time. When we got to the quarterfinal stage we knew that beating Cote d’Ivoire would give us more confidence to reach the final and people would start believing in us.?
Before the Cote d’Ivoire’ match, a lot of things could have went on in your head. Can you tell us what was actually in your mind before the game?
Actually it was a must win match for us and we knew that beating Ivory Coast will give us a lot of confidence to get to the final. So we prayed and worked for it. The only thing that was in our mind was to beat Ivory Coast because nobody gave us a chance against them.
When you come into a tournament you know that you must win every game before you can reach the final. It was really difficult but we worked hard for it and I am really grateful to God that we won because we deserve it.
When the history of Nations Cup would be told, your name will be there. What do you think history will remember you for?
Nigeria’s captain that led his team to victory. I have been there for quite a while because this was my sixth Nations Cup appearance and I am grateful to God for giving me something to show for it. Nobody believed that we can do it and at the end we proved everybody wrong. It was a reward for hard work and commitment showed by all of us including the players and the officials.? I thank the coach for believing in us that we can do it and at the end we didn’t disappoint him. All the glory goes to God because I am very grateful to him.
You said the 2013 AFCON will be your last
I have been to five Nations Cup without winning it but I thank God that my dream has finally come true. So for the Nations Cup, I think I am fulfilled because I have it now.
Does it mean that Yobo, Super Eagles captain has played his final match for the team?
I still have three years contract with my club, Fernabache. We are playing in Europa League and in Turkish league. I say for AFOCN, I am done with it. But we have Confederation Cup coming up in June and World Cup next year.
So we will see what would happen. I hope to play in Confederation Cup and World Cup which is just a year from now and after then, I will say good bye to the national team and go back to my club and wait for retirement at the expiration of my contract.
Looking back at the 2013 AFCON, which team after the Super Eagles will you say is a perfect team?
I think every team did their best but you have to give kudos to Burkina Faso. We played them in the group stage and met them in the final again. They beat Ghana in semifinal. I think it was a great achievement for them. The tournament itself was full of surprises and every team gave a good account of itself but all of us cannot be the champions.