Chima Akas needs little introduction when it comes to Nigerian football. He captained the Home Eagles to qualify for the CHAN 2016 African Championship and has been a regular member of the full Super Eagles team for some years. He has tremendous experience playing in the Nigerian League and the full back is rumoured to be in keen competition for the full back position of the Super Eagles with the more exposed and more experienced Elderson Echiejile.
But speaking with TheCable, Akas, who is looking forward to the 2016 CHAN African Championship, denied “competing” with Echiejile.
“I feel happy that we are going for the CHAN, happy that we did not disappoint Nigeria in qualifying for this tournament. We are looking forward to traveling to Kigali and ding Nigeria proud,” he said.
“In Burkina Faso, it was tough. It was tough because the Burkina team came all out and brought the game out to us while we did the opposite. We didn’t take our game to them. It was a bit difficult for us but we were able to contain the pressure and we played our game. Reason for the draw.”
Akas recalled his career from the amateur ranks to becoming prominent in the Nigerian League, saying: “I played for so many amateur clubs from 2005 to 2007. Played in Ilesha, Osun State with Dynamo FC, I played for Suma in Ibadan before joining Shooting Stars.
“After playing with some amateur clubs, playing with Shooting Stars made me feel at home. The Ibadan fans love football so much. I got lots of experience playing with the team. I enjoyed playing with the team because it is a big team in Nigeria. And if you are a Shooting Stars player, then you will know that you played with a club with some pedigree.”
Asked if he would stay with Sharks to fight for promotion the Nigerian Premier League after the team’s relegation at the end of last season, he was very emphatic that he would definitely not be playing in the lower division next season.
“I joined Sharks FC after Shooting Stars went on relegation in 2013 in the Nigerian Premier League. This is because I made a decision long time ago that I won’t want to play in the second division. Reason I moved to Port Harcourt to play with Sharks,” he said.
“As I said earlier, I don’t like playing Division Two. I can’t play with Sharks in Division Two. I want to move ahead. I am looking forward to playing in Europe or playing in the top tier of Nigeria League. I am leaving everything in the hands of God to direct me in finding a better club. That’s all I am going to say on this for now.”
On competition for places in the Super Eagles, he said: “There’s nothing like competition between myself and Elderson Echiejile. He is a senior player in the Super Eagles team.
“I always watch him either when he is playing for his club in Monaco or the national team before I started getting a call up to the national team. So, he is someone I look up to. What I know is that I will always work hard and do my best at all times, but it is the coach that has the final say on who will play at any point. So, there’s nothing like competition between the two of us.
“Elderson is my friend. We joke around a lot with each other. We talk. There’s unity in the Super Eagles camp generally. No discord of any kind. We are one family.”
Thanking God for the progress he has made over the years, Akas said: “It’s by the grace of God that I am able to do all I did and I am doing. It’s not by my power. I’m always asking God to empower me to always give my best after hard work.
“That’s why I am able to play and give my best for my club and the national team. Playing for Sharks FC today and the next day being called for national duty is just by my determination to always give my all to do what I know how to do best, which is to play football. It was tough though, but I tried to manage it well because it is my job.
“I am not the one that will rate myself. It is the people out there who will rate my performance. All I just want to do is to give my best at all times and work very hard too. So, I can’t rate myself.
“The motto of Nigeria now is winning and winning. We are doing our best here so that we can go to Rwanda and win CHAN. We need Nigerians to keep praying for us. The players are giving 120 percent commitment in training. With God and individual as well as team work, I am sure we will go to Rwanda and win the Cup. That is my belief.”