Ogenyi Onazi has enjoyed a steady career since his teenage days as a silver medal-winning member of the Golden Eaglets at the FIFA U-17 World Cup.
After winning the African Cup of Nations in 2013 and partaking in the 2014 FIFA World Cup in Brazil, Onazi says he would have joined Liverpool but for an injury sustained at the tournament.
The midfielder has since grown to become an integral part of the Super Eagles and will be relied upon to help Nigeria qualify for the 2018 FIFA World Cup in Russia.
Onazi believes that the Eagles, under the tutelage of Gernot Rohr, now have the “zeal” to excel and are “ready for all tournaments”
In an interview with TheCable on the Football Africa Arena (FAA) platform, the Trabzonspor FC of Turkey star talked about his career thus far, Gernot Rohr and the future of the Super Eagles.
How did it feel to miss two AFCON competitions back to back?
As at that time, we had lots of issues on ground that I don’t want to even remember but I am happy everything is clear now, we are focused.
How serious was your injury against France at the 2014 World Cup?
It was very serious. I was scared. It actually denied me the opportunity of going to the English league when Liverpool came for me.
What are the challenges stopping African teams from winning the FIFA World Cup?
Well, as we all know Africa always go to the World Cup with a lot of distractions which I can’t mention now. If the federations can solve all issues to let the players concentrate, I think we can make it.
Relationship with local and foreign coaches
For club and country, I have met lots of coaches and I have never had any problems with any, only one of the coaches I would say maybe he was having issues with me for no reason but I really enjoy and appreciate all of them.
On players wasting earnings and going broke after retirement
It is very few players in our generation that are spending foolishly, the others have learnt from others so I have no doubt they will invest well.
What’s your favourite position?
For me any position in the midfield I can play comfortably well but defensive is my favourite.
Will you join the China adventure?
I don’t think so because I have my football plans in Europe. Hopefully, much later.
Should Rohr invite players playing in China to Super Eagles?
For me, Chinese League is growing really fast and strong. A player who plays in China, I will invite him as far as he is having playing time and doing well the only problem is when he is invited and can’t meet up, then they can find other options.
Can Gernot Rohr qualify Nigeria for the 2018 World Cup?
Yes, since he has taken the job and he has shown he knows what he is doing and we are ready to support him to any length.
What principles does he instill in Super Eagles players?
He, first of all, makes us understand that we will not live by the past. That we need to forget about what we have achieved and what we have not. Now, we have to create another history and change the mindset of Nigerians. I have learned a lot from him tactically that is why I know he will take us places.
What’s your best ever game in a Super Eagles jersey?
Well, so many games I have played from day one are great games but since you asked for one I would say the game against Ivory Coast because I played against the best in the middle with Yaya Touré and the rest.
Low moments playing for Super Eagles
We have a lot of them; losing some very important games, not being able to qualify for some major tournaments.
How can one succeed in football?
It takes discipline, dedication, hard work and most especially, prayers.
Source: The Cable