Europa League: Azubuike braced for defining March with Başakşehir

Europa League: Azubuike braced for defining March with Başakşehir

Nigerian midfielder Okechukwu Azubuike has told that he his braced for “a defining month” with his Turkish side Istanbul Başakşehir in March.

Azubuike put up a stellar performance in his side’s 4-1 win (5-4 on aggregate) against Sporting Lisbon in their Europa League round of 32 second leg clash in Istanbul on Thursday night.

Coached by former Turkish midfielder Okan Buruk, Başakşehir are also top of the Turkish Super Lig table and so face a crucial month on both domestic and continental fronts in March.

“It’s going to be a defining month for us,” the midfielder told after Friday morning’s training session.

“We know what we want and we are going to work towards it. We are in a good place at the moment but we know there is still a lot of work to be done.”

After the impressive comeback on Thursday night, Başakşehir have now been drawn against reigning Denmark league champions FC Copenhagen in the round of 16.

Copenhagen eliminated Scottish champions Celtic in a thrilling 3-1 win at Ibrox on Thursday. Although the draw is seen as largely favourable, Azubuike insists his side will not underrate them.

“I think it’s not a bad draw also for me, but for a team to get to the Round 16, it shows they’re a good team. We surely will not be underrating them.”

Azubuike played for 77 minutes on Thursday night, his first start since January 31. Such is the level of competition at the capital club. The Olympics medallist however says he is working harder than ever to be more involved in the run-in.

“Personally I work more than I have ever done in my career,” he stated.

“This is a big team in Turkey and they have been consistent for 5yrs with 80% of the same players, so it’s a continuous thing for me and I will keep working on it.”

Up next for Azubuike and his Başakşehir teammates is a league game on Monday against Gaziantepspor.

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