Dosu Joseph, a former Nigerian goalkeeper, has said Chelsea’s Tammy Abraham must be allowed to make his choice between Nigeria and England.
The forward has been the subject of a tussle between the Super Eagles and the Three Lions.
In this interview with Newsbreak’s James Agberebi, the Atlanta 96 Olympics gold winner discusses this and other issues.
WHAT’S YOUR TAKE ON THE TUSSLE BETWEEN NIGERIA AND ENGLAND FOR TAMMY ABRAHAM?
Tammy Abraham has been doing very well for Chelsea this season. He has shown that he is a very good player judging by the fact that he has been on a good scoring form. Coming to the issue of whether he should play for Nigeria, it is his own choice to make. This is not something that should be forced on him. We’ve had players who despite playing for other countries at junior level, like England, eventually played for Nigeria. A good example is Victor Moses, Alex Iwobi and Ola Aina. It will be nice if he choose to play for Nigeria but let’s approach him first and allow him decide. If he decide to play for Nigeria fine if not, no problem.
WHAT WILL HE ADD TO THE SUPER EAGLES IF HE EVENTUALLY DECIDE TO PLAY FOR NIGERIA?
He will be a plus. It means we will have more strikers, more options to choose from. Presently we have the likes of Victor Osimhen, Paul Onuachu. And if Abraham now joins, it means the coach will now have varieties going into games. The coach can decide who to go for depending on the kind of opponent. So for me, it will be nice to have him play for Nigeria because it will help us a lot.
DO YOU THINK HE HAS WHAT IT TAKES TO MAINTAIN HIS SCORING FORM AT CHELSEA?
He has started well by showing that he can score goals. He is even keeping a top strikers like Olivier Giroud which is not an easy thing to do. But it is still early in the season and the signs are good. Let’s hope he will keep up his good form for Chelsea.
THE CURRENT SQUAD OF THE SUPER EAGLES IS ARGUBLY ONE OF THE YOUNGEST IN RECENT TIMES, WHAT DO YOU MAKE OF THIS?
When the late Stephen Keshi was in charge, his squad was young. Also we’ve had coaches who’ve coached a young Super Eagles squad. We’ve always had a young team. We want to go back to the 1994 era where we had a squad that won the Nations Cup and did well at their first appearance at the World Cup. The team started growing from 1989 up to 1994 where they became matured. Some of the guys from the Eagles now made the bulk of our team that won gold in Atlanta, which I was a part of. I believe that is the target of the current coaching crew. The plan is to go back to when we had a young team that grew to become fearless and I’m confident this current squad will be a success.
BUT DO YOU THINK FOOTBALL FANS WILL HAVE THE PATIENCE TO WAIT FOR THE TEAM TO MATURE WITHOUT PUTTING PRESSURE ON THEM?
I believe Gernot Rohr and his coaching have been given the free hand to do their work. I know Nigerians want results, but when you have a young team it is important to give them time to grow. We’ve seen them play at the World Cup where despite not making it out of the group stage, did well against very good sides. We all saw the game against Argentina, they only lost the game due to lack of experience which is common with a young team especially at a tournament like the World Cup. Also we saw what they did at this year’s Cup of Nations. They did very well despite finishing third which is not easy. So I think there should be patience with the team, the target should not be in the immediate but we should be looking ahead to the future where these players would have matured and ready to win major tournaments. We saw what they did against Ukraine, it was a very good game for them despite the draw which was due to loss of concentration. They showed that they can hold their own against the best.
THE FIRST BIG TEST FOR THIS TEAM IS THE QUALIFIERS FOR THE 2021 AFCON WHERE THEY WILL FACE BENIN REPUBLIC, SIERRA LEONE AND LESOTHO. WILL IT BE A STROLL FOR THEM?
Far from it because as we always say, there are no cheap groups or easy teams to play against. We all saw what Benin Republic did at the last Cup of Nations, they eliminated a very good Moroccan team and did not lose any game until they got to the quarter-finals. The same thing applies to the other two teams in the Eagles’ group (Lesotho and Sierra Leone). We should also remember that we lost to Madagascar. So we should be very careful and work very hard to qualify from the group. Though the group looks easy on paper, but they are not going to find it easy.
BEFORE THE AFCON QUALIFIERS, THERE IS THE FRIENDLY AGAINST BRAZIL, YOU PLAYED AGAINST A VERY GOOD BRAZILIAN TEAM AT ATLANTA, SO WHAT SHOULD WE EXPECT?
It is a big one for the Super Eagles. The last time we played them at the senior level we lost 3-0. I believe our players will be happy to play against Brazil because it will be a big opportunity for them to face a formidable opponent. It will be a good game which our players will benefit from.
BUT DON’T YOU THINK A HEAVY LOSS MIGHT DESTROY THEIR CONFIDENCE ESPECIALLY COMING UP AGAINST A STAR-STUDDED SIDE LIKE BRAZIL?
It is just a friendly game which for me the result shouldn’t be the main focus, rather how the players perform against a very good team. The Brazilian team will know they will come up against a very good Nigerian team especially with the history between both countries. We have very good players and they too have world class players like Neymar, Coutinho, Gabriel Jesus and others. This will make for a very good match. So like I said, it is a game our players will learn a lot from.
NOW LET’S LOOK AT YOUR PERSONAL LIFE, WHAT ARE YOU INTO PRESENTLY?
I have a football academy known as Joseph Dosu football academy which I run. We are not doing badly. So for now this is what I do.
ANY PLANS TO MAYBE TAKE UP A POSITION WITH THE NATIONAL TEAM JUST LIKE SOME OF YOUR FORMER TEAMMATES?
Well, I wish I can go into coaching but with what I have seen with my former national team colleagues, I don’t think I would want to go into it. But I think they have done well for themselves by going into coaching. But I can be a technical man which will surely be off the pitch, in order to contribute my own quota to the development of Nigerian football.