INTERVIEW – Eto’o: Barcelona Will Win Laliga; Nigeria vs Cameroun AFCON 2021 Final Likely

March 3, 2020
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Former Barcelona forward Samuel Eto’o Fils, in this exclusive interview with Complete Sports’ OLUYEMI OGUNSEYIN, talks about the 2019/2020 Laliga Santander title chase.

The onetime Inter Milan and Chelsea striker also speaks about African football, Nigerian and other African players plying their trade in Europe. Here are excerpts of the interview…

How did your football career start?

My career started just like every child in Africa growing up and playing on the streets with every available thing that looks like a football.

You took part in some El Clasico games. Which one do you see as the best for you?

I cannot say because that is really quite difficult to tell. But if you ask me again, I would simply tell you that the best for me were the ones that I won.

You have played under a whole lot of coaches ranging from Pep Guardiola to Jose Mourinho. Who is the best manager you played under?

I have had many coaches, but the best for me is no more, his name is Luis Aragones, he truly was a great man.

We have some Nigerian players in the Laliga, the likes of Samuel Chukwueze, Kenneth Omeruo, Chidozie Awaziem, Oghenekaro Etebo and Ramon Azeez. Do you see Chukwueze playing for top Spanish clubs like Barcelona and Real Madrid in the future as we all know many elite sides across Europe actually want him?

Samuel Chukwueze has got great footballing qualities which I believe can make him play for both Barcelona and Real Madrid in the nearest future, he is also a player I like so much.

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All that Chukwueze will need is the opportunity to play for these big clubs and I know that he will not disappoint, however, he needs to stay focused and also remain committed.

Who is your best African player at this very point in time?

I have so many African players who are currently active that I like so much, I particularly do not know the best. I like Anguissa who plays for Villareal, I also like Andre Onana of Ajax.
Also, the likes of Mohamed Salah and Sadio Mane of Liverpool play very well, so I like them too. We also have Pierre Emerick-Aubameyang at Arsenal and Riyad Mahrez of Manchester City.

It’s over two decades now since a Nigerian player won the African footballer of the year award. Do you see any Nigerian player achieving that feat anytime soon and which Nigeria player can win it?

There are lots of players who are good right now and I believe that this thing is about choice. And since it is an election, people will have to vote but Africa is blessed with fine players.

So, you don’t want to mention any Nigerian player who you think can win the African footballer of the year award soon?

No, I wouldn’t like to…(Laughs).

Barcelona and Real Madrid are competing strongly for the Laliga title this season. I am putting you on the spot now. Who are you tipping to win it?

It is a very simple and stright-forward answer: Barcelona.

Why did you go for Barcelona? Real Madrid have also been quite good this season.

I went for Barcelona because that is the best team in the Spanish Laliga, it is also the best club in the world and it is also one of the sides I played for.

However, I know for a certainty that Real Madrid themselves are also one of the biggest clubs in the world as lots of players always love to go there and play.

It is a place that I have also been but Barcelona, that was where I had the most joy even as a footballer. Remember Madrid are still missing Cristiano Ronaldo.

The 2021 African Cup of Nations will be hosted by Cameroun in January next year. Who are you tipping to win the title?

That is very easy, I am tipping Cameroun to win…(Laughs)

But what about Nigeria? The Super Eagles are also very good…

It will be such a great thing to see Cameroun and Nigeria play in the final of the 2021 African Cup of Nations because of the pedigree of the two countries on the continent. It is one of the biggest games in Africa. But right now, we have teams like Tunisia, Senegal, Algeria, Morocco, Republic of Benin and even Madagascar, so the quality is almost evenly spread.

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