Kalmar FC of Sweden striker, Taiwo Awoniyi in this exclusive chat at Hotel Al Afifa in Dakar, Senegal, told our man, Bunmi Ogunyale, that he is ready to replicate the feat that earned the accolade at the FIFA U-17 World Cup in United Arab Emirates.
Though, deadly in front of goal, but the Ilorin-born maintained the team’s target is his main priority.
Gentleman, Awoniyi, also took time to speak on his aspirations, career and lifestyle.
We serve you the interview hot and fresh.
Taiwo, congratulations on your MVP award and what amount of motivation would this honour give you as the Flying Eagles seek glory here in Senegal?
First of all, I want to thank God for honouring me, but I must thank my teammates for the support they are giving me on the pitch. You will agree with me that without the other players providing me with assists, I wouldn’t have got those goals. I hope to score more goals for the team in our subsequent games and make Nigerians proud.
It appears the responsibility of scoring goals is placed on you. Does this put you under any pressure?
We all experience pressure in our various works in life. You as a journalist also have your deadline to meet and that also put you under some forms of pressure. As a striker, I always like to score goals, but most important thing is for the team to earn victory irrespective of who scored. We all have a role to play and that is to ensure Nigeria comes top at the end of the competition.
Having scored great goals here at the African Youth Championship in Dakar, Senegal, are you aiming the top scorers award and possibly the tournament Most Valuable Player?
Of course, every player loves to be honoured but our primary target is to qualify for the U-20 World Cup in New Zealand as African Champions and any other personal target can be considered later.
What number of goals do you plan to score in this competition?
Personally, I don’t have any plan towards that because that cause us distraction at the end of the day. I will definitely score goals if I’m well positioned on the pitch. I’m not a selfish strike. I also like my teammates to register their names on the score sheet. So, I believe the end will justify the means.
So, what is your strong point as a striker?
Well, I love to play simple. I try not to put myself in a difficult position on the pitch. Once, I position myself, the ball will come and I try to convert the chance that comes my way, even if it is a half chance.
But it is appears other teams in this competition are seeing you as a deadly striker. How are you coping with this?
We all have our believes and I can’t query that. However, I’m just like every other players in this competition. Like I said earlier, the job of scoring goals is not vested on just a player, but we all can sore goals if the opportunity comes. We have a complete team and anyone call upon by the coaches can deliver and lift Nigeria.
Are there any country, the Flying Eagles would like to avoid en route final in this competition?
There is this saying that, you must beat the best to become the best. So, we are not scared of any team in this competition. Instead, it is the countries that are trying to avoid us. But we won’t allow our high ranking distract us and we would take every game as it comes.
Do you think your move to Kalmar FC of Sweden have polished you as a player?
(Smiles). Firstly, I must say a big thank you to my manager, who was also an ex-international, Seyi Olofinjana.
He’s done great thing in my career because without God and him, I wouldn’t have got to this stage in life. So, kudos to him for seeing the talent in me and giving me the needed lift. international, Seyi Olofinjana.
I’m also indebted to Coach Rasaq Olojo, who nurtured me and Ndukka Ugbade for discovering me during a Coca Cola competition in Ibadan before I traveled to London in 2010 for a competition, where Olofinjana, spotted me.
Back to your question, I completely agree with you because Kalmar FC academy is one of the best in the world. They have good coaches, nutritionists, psychologists that mentor you and get the best out of you. So, I believe the move has really paid off and I’m now a different player.
For how long do you plan to stay at Kalmar FC and which country would you like to move to after Sweden?
I’m a player of Kalmar and I’m still in Sweden as a young player. I believe I still have a long way to go and I just want to take it easy and allow Almighty God take preeminent control of my career.
Sometimes ago, you earned a call up to the Super Eagles by Coach Stephen Keshi. Can you share your experience with the big boys?
Wow. It was a wonderful experience because I never thought the senior national team invitation was going to come that early. It was a worthwhile experience, I must confess. The call up gave me a lot of exposure and confidence in the game and I’m beginning to see the gains of it.
On a personal note, tell us your best pals in the Flying Eagles camp
(Laugh). I love everyone in camp and we chat a lot because you need to have good relationship off the pitch and that assists a lot during games. However, I am tends to be close to Chiderah Ezeh and Idowu Akinjide. They are great guys and I love to be with them at all time in camp.
Thanks for talking to us and we wish you and your teammates the best of luck in your other competitions.