LAGOS, Nigeria, January 14 – Chelsea winger Victor Moses, who fled to England after his parents were killed in sectarian riots, hopes to crown his debut at the Africa Cup of Nations by helping Nigeria win the trophy.
Moses has come a long way since his father and mother were slain in northern Nigerian city Kaduna, forcing him to abandon his homeland at the age of 11 and begin a new life in a strange environment.
“Wherever they are at the moment, they should be proud of me, looking down being proud,” Moses told British media last year when he remembered his parents, Austin, a Christian pastor in Kaduna, and mother, Josephine.
On the tournament in South Africa, he said: “I am confident of a good outing in South Africa,” he says of the three-week African footall showcase to be staged at five of the 10 stadiums used for the 2010 World Cup.
“We have prepared well and, having missed the last tournament, wish to make Nigerians proud by the end of it,” said Moses, who has enjoyed a bigger role at Chelsea since the arrival of manager Rafael Benitez.
“This is my first Africa Cup of Nations and I want to make it a memorable one.
“I want to play in every match, score when the opportunity presents itself and help players in good positions to also score. When all these (things) happen, they (supporters) can be sure that we are going to bring back the trophy.”
Nigeria have won the tournament twice with their last triumph being in Tunisia 19 years ago, but very few would argue against a third victory now that 22-year-old Moses has proven to be such a valuable addition.
He is fast, armed with a great dribble and besides weighing in with his fair share of goals, also creates goals for others.
His manager at former club Wigan Athletic, Spaniard Roberto Martinez, says Moses is one player he would pay to watch.
Interestingly, it had looked like Nigeria would lose him after he represented England at age-group levels.
But after a protracted processing of his change of international allegiance, he made his long-awaited debut as a late substitute in a 2013 Nations Cup qualifier away to Rwanda last February.
He was tentative at the start of his Eagles career, but underlined his class last October with two well-taken goals in another Nations Cup qualifier at home to Liberia.
“Getting Victor Moses to play for Nigeria was a big victory for us, He can dribble, has speed, has vision, creates and scores goals from inside and outside the box. He is an all-round player with a lot to offer,” remarked ex-international Jonathan Akpoborie.
Moses has also defied those who argued against his transfer last August from modest English Premier League club Wigan to European champions Chelsea, predicting he would struggle to get game time.
But he has scored five goals for the London club, including a last-ditch winner against Shakhtar Donetsk in the Champions League.