Half-Nigerian Germany U20 national team skipper Kevin Akpoguma in this interview, revealed that his dad had prayed against a round of 16 clash between Germany and Nigeria which unfortunately happened with the German running away with a 1-0 victory over the Flying Eagles. He told AfricanFootball.com he expects his team to brush aside Mali on Sunday (today) much easier than they eliminated Nigeria in the U20 World Cup Round of 16.
Please give your take on the match between Germany and Nigeria.
I think in the first half we were the better team, but in the second half Nigeria came at us, they were stronger. They had the power to go another 90 minutes.
We were a bit lucky in the last 10 minutes, but in the end Germany won. If we had taken our chances in the first half, it would have been easier for us. We defended well and won the game.
What should we expect from Germany against Mali on Sunday?
Today’s game will be tougher than what we will come up against on Sunday. Mali play good football, but I think Nigeria are much better than Mali. It will easier for us against Mali than against playing Nigeria.
You think you can now go all the way to win the World Cup?
Yes, my mindset before the match (vs Nigeria) was that the team who win this game, will go very far. We now have teams like Uzbekistan through to the quarterfinals, so now we have a very good chance to reach the final.
Your dad has been here cheering you. Now that you have qualified for the quarterfinal, is he staying back?
He will leave on Saturday because his holidays are over. He took holidays for four games and it was nice to have him here.
What did he say about the match?
He said before Nigeria played Hungary that he would like Nigeria to finish third so that they do not play against Germany in the Round of 16.
He also warned us to be careful about the No.18 (Taiwo Awoniyi) and Isaac Success, because they are dangerous strikers. He was excited to be at the game and he was also holding the Nigerian flag.
I see you exchanged jerseys with Isaac Success.
Yes, we spoke a little bit and we agreed to change jerseys. It is a good memory for me to play against Nigeria as I’m half Nigerian because my dad is from there. It was an honour to have the jersey because Nigeria also play good football.
Next season you will be on loan to Fortuna Dusseldorf in the German second division. How are you looking forward to this fresh challenge?
I want to have game time as a professional, I need it now and so I will be on loan to Dusseldorf for two seasons. I’m looking forward to joining them, but now I have to concentrate on the World Cup. And after that I will go on holidays before I concentrate on my club career.
We still have some strong teams in the quarterfinals of the World Cup.
How do you rate them?
Brazil, Serbia and Portugal. It will be tough for both Brazil and Portugal as they will now clash in the quarterfinals, just as it was for Germany meeting Nigeria in the Round of 16. But I see Portugal making it to the next round.
So, it could well be a repeat of the U19 European Championship final of last year – Germany vs Portugal?
It could be, but then every game has to be played first. Germany and Portugal will now be the favourites to reach the final.