We can win U-23 AFCON – Dele-Bashiru

England-born midfielder Tom Dele-Bashiru, who plays for Premier League side Watford, cautions players of Nigerian descent not to rush to switch their allegiance, in this interview monitored by Sodiq Oyeleke

What is your impression since you arrived in Nigeria?

It’s a nice place, the weather is really hot. I haven’t really had the opportunity to see much because I’m always in camp. I have heard good things about Nigeria and I am looking to explore soon.

What was your experience playing for Nigeria at the 2019 U-20 World Cup?

It was a great experience to represent my country. I learnt a lot, scoring on my debut was a great feeling as well and I just felt I could use the competition to let the people know how much of a good player I am.

How easy was it for you to choose Nigeria ahead of England?

I think there are a lot of players born abroad that would love to play for Nigeria, but they haven’t had the chance or opportunity to, but it’s a great feeling and honour to play for this country, so hopefully, a lot more players playing abroad will choose to play for Nigeria.

What is the perception about Nigerian football out there in the UK and in Europe?

Nigerians are held in high regard because they’ve had great players over the years and they seem to do well in the African cups, but not so well in the World Cup. But I think the future will be great for Nigeria because there are a lot of players coming through and home-grown players as well.

What is your message to players with national team options who are dragging their feet to play for Nigeria?

It depends on how old they are. If they are still between 14, 15 years old onwards and they haven’t made a decision on who to play for, they shouldn’t rush to make the decision. But when the opportunity comes, it will feel right when you choose; they will know when they’ve made the right choice.

How do you feel playing for two different Nigerian teams (U-20, U-23) in the space of six months?

It’s another great honour for me. Obviously, I moved to Watford during the summer and I haven’t really had that much of an opportunity to play there, but I have been training hard. I am really proud to have been selected to play.

What is your take on the U-23 team?

The team is talented, we work hard together, it’s full of talents and I think we can go far in the competition. I am looking forward to playing alongside these players.

What do you think about your opponents in Egypt – Ivory Coast, South Africa and Zambia?

I think we can go all the way, I don’t see why not. I think we have the quality and we just need to work hard in the games and don’t underestimate anyone.

Which are your best Nigerian delicacies?

I like a few. I like fried rice and beans.
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