Martins ready to fire Newcastle back on track

February 7, 2008
By Dave Roberts

EXCLUSIVE: Newcastle United stiker Obafemi Martins is ready to help Newcastle United return to winning ways after his Africa Cup of Nations campaign with Nigeria ended prematurely.

International hopes dashed, it is now a journey into the unknown for Magpies striker Martins. While away in Ghana, his club manager Sam Allardyce was fired and the Messiah made his second coming to the banks of the Tyne.

New boss Kevin Keegan seems to have a head start back at St James', Martins just hopes he can play a leading role in the black and white phoenix which will undoubtedly rise from the Sam Allardyce ashes.

Martins knows of Keegan but had not spoken to him prior to recovering at home in Lagos after the early exit from the Cup of Nations.

'Oba' as he is affectionately known on Tyneside, then flew back to the land of the Geordies hoping to provide the spark needed to ignite United's attack and give Kevin Keegan's his first win, saying: 'He did a lot for Newcastle and all the fans love him.

'They call him 'The King' so I think it's very, very good. It's very good for him as well and we players are going to try and play for him, try our possible best just to make him proud.'

Obafemi's best would be just what Keegan needs. The Magpies were without a win since the Nigerian left for Ghana and Keegan arrived. King Kev watched from the stands as the Premiership side tore Stoke City apart in the FA Cup, but it was tougher going after that with a mixed bag of defeats and draws.

It will be strange though for Martins, with all that he left behind now either in pieces or completely different, 'Everything will have changed now, we have a new manager and he'll have changed a lot of things that I don't know. I think it's not a problem for me to go back and focus on starting playing' he admits.'

Martins says he is confident Keegan is the right man for the job and will soon have the Magpies finding their wings again. But what of Nigeria?

Martins admits losing to bitter rivals Ghana in the quarter finals of the Africa Cup of Nations was hard to take. He said: 'It's very disappointing. We played very well but I don't really know what was going on.'

'I think what was wrong with us was about 10 minutes before the end of the game we relaxed a little bit and Ghana took their chances and that's why they got the goals and won. It's football, you either win or lose but we didn't mean to lose.

'We just need to change it, we need to give 95 minutes or 110% just to finish it off and to win and not relax.

'After 10 against 11 we thought we'd won this game now. Ghana kept pressing and playing very well with 10 men, they did good and they played very well.'