Interviewed By Walter Wilson Nana, Innocent Mbunwe & Ernest Sumelong| 13 April 2010 | The Post|
Michael Ntui Eta is a former player of Mount Cameroon FC of Buea and Astres of Douala. Now, he trades his football skills in the oil-rich country, Angola. A central defender with Petro Athletico of Luanda, Ntui confirms that he is comfortable so far but can make a switch, especially to Europe and the United States if the opportunity comes his way. During a recent visit to Buea, he shared with The Post what he thinks about the Lions performance at the Angola 2010 Africa Cup of Nations, ACN, the upcoming MTN – sponsored FIFA 2010 World Cup in South Africa, the future of his club in the African Champions League and his interest to contribute his own quota in the Indomitable Lions if given the opportunity to do so. Excerpts:
How did you establish contact with Petro Athletico of Luanda, Angola?
I was informed by officials of my former club, Astres of Douala, after the close of the 2006 football season in Cameroon. Before that, I had been to Libya for a series of testing exercises with other clubs. Done with the Libyan stop-over, I came back to Cameroon, when Astres officials told me there is an Angola club, which is in quest of a central defender. They proposed that I go there and give a try. Coming from my club management, I did not hesitate. There after, I packed my little bag and took off for Luanda. While in Luanda, I was selected to be part of the team.
What’s your appreciation of the Angolan Football League vis-a-vis that of Cameroon?
There is not much of a difference. But the motivation and the facilities out there in Angola are better than what I experienced in Cameroon. Things have also moved very fast in Angola in recent years, as they prepared for the African Cup of Nations, ACN, 2010. They have constructed new infrastructure for the nation, for the Angolan youth and for posterity.
What is the explanation for your successful integration into the Angolan football system?
Initially, there were difficulties adapting to a newfound system, especially as the language in Angola is Portuguese while I come from an English and French speaking country, Cameroon. But as you move out for greener pastures, you have to be morally ready for the challenges that await you out there. I made efforts to adapt to the new system, gradually learnt the basics of Portuguese so that I can communicate and to ensure that I fit myself into the team. Subsequently, I pushed in my way to be a regular player of the club.
How is Ntui seen in Angola?
I will say thanks to God that I came into Angola with my own touch and style. My style is different from that of an Angolan player. Though a central defender, I do have that urge to go offensive once in a while and even score a few goals. That way, I have been said to be different in my play style. My contributions in the club have been greatly appreciated.
You watched the ACN 2010 in Angola. From your reading, what went wrong with the Indomitable Lions?
I am not in a better position to answer that worry of yours because I am not the Lions’ trainer. I am also a player. It will not be good for me to pass judgements on other players. The people out there who watched the Lions are better placed to judge the team.
As we look forward to South Africa 2010, what will be your advice to the managers of the Lions?
In life, we learn from our mistakes everyday as we move ahead and subsequently correct them. Let the trainer get as close as possible to his team so that he can know what to do if there are problems. I will not put the blame on the players. Every new day, players get up with a new spirit. They just have to be in a good state of mind.
If you were invited to join the Lions’ den, do you have something extra to contribute?
I will put in the best that I can to ensure that the Lions progress as much as they can. It is the dream of every player to defend the colours of his fatherland. It is a privilege and it goes with a lot of pride. If one is given the opportunity, it is the time to contribute your best so that you can hang on there as long as you can be of good to the team and the nation in general.
Now, back to your team; how is Petro Athletico performing in the African scene?
We are looking forward to get into the group stage of the African Champions League. Thereafter, we negotiate our progress.
Do you intend to play in Europe some day?
If there is an opportunity to move over to Europe, I will do so. For now, I do not have any problem in Angola. I am comfortable with the pay package but if a bigger opening comes up, I will not hesitate to grab it.
How will you react to the relegation of your former club, Mount Cameroon FC of Buea to Division III?
The club took off on a very spirited note, but in recent years, it has been dwindling. I would not tell what is happening. In one of the club’s stop-over in Angola, the President told me they have financial difficulties. Football is also about money. With money, you will get good players too. Nobody will come to play in a football team for free.
If you had an advice to proffer to football managers in Cameroon after having had this exposure, what would that be?
They move around to some countries in the world. They should be able to learn from what these countries have done, are doing and will continue to do, for the development of their sporting infrastructure. With all the big name and international publicity Cameroon has gained across the world, we should not be going elsewhere to play our friendly matches.
If I tell Angolans that back in Cameroon, I play on the sandy turf, they will not believe. From my talents, they think that I come from a very splendid sporting background; with the best of infrastructure you can imagine. Now, Angolans do not move out of their country.
Those who were playing elsewhere in the world are back home. The entire nation has embarked on a non-stop reconstruction programme. The sporting department is not left out. The Angolan Football Federation, the various clubs across the country are putting in a lot of money into the game and on infrastructure in particular. If we do that in Cameroon, why should most Cameroonian footballers go out there?
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