Dickson Etuhu talks all things Fulham at the 2012 Interactive FIWC

On Sunday evening Football FanCast caught up with Fulham and Nigeria central midfielder Dickson Etuhu at the Sony Playstation Fifa 2012 Interactive World Cup UK qualifiers. The eventual winner of the UK qualifiers, Ty Walton, will now go on to the Grand Final to compete against the winners from countries around the globe to compete for $20,000. Walton said of his victory: “I was delighted to be back again challenging for the Qualifier event here in London, so knowing I’ve secured a place at the Grand Final is a dream come true. My experience at the 2011 Grand Final in Los Angeles was unbelievable so hopefully I can go back and win the tournament outright this year.”

Etuhu, who has been with Fulham since 2008, recently saw his good friend and star striker Bobby Zamora leave for QPR in January: “Bobby was probably the most popular man at the club so it was difficult for us to see him go, a lot of us still keep in contact with him, funnily enough I spoke to him today he’s a very good friend of mine. We miss him, not just his quality as a player but his banter too; he was a big part of the club.”

However the signings of Pavel Pogrebynyak in January and Bryan Ruiz in the summer will go some way to make up for the loss Zamora and Etuhu feels as though Bryan is beginning to find his best form. “Bryan’s doing well, obviously it was a bit of a slow start for him but the Premiership is a difficult league, it’s a lot faster than the Dutch league but he’s settled in now and he’s another good lad. He’s very quiet but he loves his football, he’s doing well for the team. The manager has been trying to find a position for him but now we know he probably plays best on the right or just behind the striker and we’re going to get a lot of good out of him because he’s a top quality player.”

In Martin Jol Fulham fans are now witnessing their fifth manager since 2007; whilst they have enjoyed mixed success the 29 year old Etuhu expressed a belief that Jol was the right man to take Fulham to the next level. “Martin Jol is big on his attacking football, the man loves proper football, he loves flair, he loves us keeping the ball and he loves to entertain the crowd. I think you cans see that in the type of players that he’s bringing into the club; we’re getting better to watch, especially away from home, we’re not as boring as we used to be and that’s something that he’s brought to the team.”

Nigeria, like many of the big African teams, have, in the eyes of many, underperformed in recent years, particularly in their failure to qualify for the 2012 African Cup of Nations, and whilst Etuhu admits there have been problems he is hopeful that new manager Stephen Keshi is the right man to restore Nigeria to its former glory: “For me there are a lot of reasons [for Nigeria’s poor performances recently]. Yes we’ve got some of the best African players in Europe playing for our country but you could say that some of the managers that we’ve had in the past haven’t been the right men for the job or you could blame it on other things, but that’s finished now. We’ve got a new manager now in Stephen Keshi who I think is the right man for the job. You know I refused to play for the old manager for a year and I really missed playing for my country so much so I’m happy now that I’m back playing again, I’m actually going away next week to play the first qualifier [for the next African Cup of Nations] and I think now we’re going forward now.”

With Libya having to withdraw from hosting the next African Cup of Nations due to civil unrest Nigeria, as the reserve host, thought they were in line to hold the competition. However the Confederation of African Football decided that the tournament would be held in South Africa instead. Whilst understandably disappointed, Etuhu insisted that there were far more pressing issues at hand for Nigerian football. “Obviously South Africa has got the stadiums from the World Cup and they’ve got the facilities for a big tournament like that. We would have loved for it to be in Nigeria but we’ll just move on from that. We just have to concentrate on doing well in the next tournament and qualifying for it. All that other stuff is irrelevant to us right now; we just want to concentrate on getting into the next [African] Nations cup considering we missed the last one. That’s more important to us than hosting the tournament.”

This year’s African Cup of Nations was won by Zambia as they beat the Ivory Coast on penalties to secure an historic victory. Yet whilst many were surprised by the outcome of the tournament it was less of a shock for the Fulham midfielder. “It’s funny when people speak about Zambia like that [as underdogs] because I’ve played against Zambia this year and we knocked them out of the last African Cup of Nations and they’re a good team. People keep thinking that they’re the underdogs but I said from the beginning of the tournament that I fancied them. You know it didn’t really surprise me that they won, not one bit. They’re not underdogs; they are a very good team. They’ve got a great manager, he’s been with them for a while which is something that I think every African team should look at because we change managers too quickly. I think you need to have a good foundation like they have. That’s one of the reasons they play really good football and have a good understanding within the team. They actually play like a club side, which is very difficult to see in international football, and I think they deserved to win it.”

Dickson Etuhu and Jay Bothroyd attended the UK final of the FIFA Interactive World Cup on EA SPORTS’ FIFA 12, which was won by Ty Walton. Players can still compete online through their PLAYSTATION 3. For more information, visit www.fifa.com/fiwc

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