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EXCLUSIVE | Rami Rabia: We wanted to prove Nigeria wrong
Rami Rabia put in a strong showing over two legs, as Egypt managed to eliminate Nigeria’s chances for qualification to the 2017 Africa Cup of Nations. Despite Egypt having one leg in Gabon, the former Sporting Clube de Portugal player is adamant qualification is not sealed yet.
“We haven’t qualified yet, football has got no master. We have to take Tanzania seriously, we have to play well and win in Tanzania. We don’t want to complicate things for ourselves and think about goal difference, points, wins and draws. We need to go into the game with a clear conscious just like we are now after beating Nigeria,” Rabia told KingFut.
Nigeria officials had made many statements prior to the match, with manager Samson Siasia telling KingFut that Nigeria were expecting respect from Egypt.
“We weren’t concentrating with what Nigerian officials and players had to say. But on the contrary, when we did hear about what they said it gave us a push to prove to everyone that we can do something good for ourselves and prove to them that they were wrong.
“Nigeria might have names that are bigger than ours but football was never a ‘names game’, football was always known by your performance and fight on the pitch.
Nigeria Football Federation told KingFut that Egypt had lacked the fundamentals of fair player after the draw in Kaduna. Rami was quick to laugh all those claims.
“This is nonsense. They started with the lack of fair play in the match. I remember our player was on the ground in the match at Kaduna and Nigeria did not kick the ball out of the pitch. Later in the second half, Hossam Ghaly did to them what they had done to us. That to me seems fair enough,” Rabia continued.
“When they came to Alexandria, we put the ball out of play when their player got injured [Etebo], if we lacked fair play we wouldn’t have.
— KingFut.com (@King_Fut) March 25, 2016
Rabia was given a distinctive ball-playing role from the back in Alexandria, which was clear since the start of the match as he sent the highest number of long balls against Nigeria of all players on the pitch.
“Personally, Mr.Cuper gave me the responsibility of man-marking Odion Ighalo, even in set-pieces I was the one marking him. Regarding the long balls, we practiced them a lot because in Kaduna, the Super Eagles’ fullbacks went forward a lot so we wanted to expose those areas by sending long balls to Marwan Mohsen with him or the midfield players sending the ball behind the fullbacks to Salah, Ramadan or Trezeguet.
“In the second match the fullbacks did not attack much as we hit them in those areas in Kaduna so when they came to Alexandria, their fullbacks stayed put in their places,” the 22-year-old revealed.
“From my point of view, Odion Ighalo and Victor Moses were Nigeria’s best players. I wasn’t too impressed with their defensive midfielder John Obi Mikel.
Rabia has come under criticism from famous commentator and football pundits Ahmed El-Tayeb and Khaled Bayoumi of late but the Ahly star doesn’t think the criticism is justified.
“Ahmed El-Tayeb and Khaled Bayoumi are professionals and I respect their decision. They thinks that Hegazy and I don’t know how to play but these are their opinions. I respect that and on the contrary, I won’t reply to such comments as they’re in the same age of my father so I have to respect them. Regardless, I will try my best to take his criticism seriously and fix whatever mistakes I may make.
“But anyway, I always try to give my best and improve my game always with every match I play,” Rabia concluded.