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EXCLUSIVE- Mikel Agu: Criticisms After Zambia Game Hurt Me But I’m Determined To Win Over Boo-Boys

EXCLUSIVE- Mikel Agu: Criticisms After Zambia Game Hurt Me But I’m Determined To Win Over Boo-Boys

By Kayode Ogundare:

More than a week after Nigeria secured qualification for the 2018 World Cup in Russia with a 1-0 victory over Zambia in Uyo, fall-outs of the game is still reverberating with Super Eagles midfielder Mikel Ndubuisi Agu claiming to still feel the hurt of the virulent criticism of his performance against the Chipolopolo, including copping a yellow card barely five minutes after replacing Ogenyi Onazi.


Agu, who scored his first goal of the season for his Turkish Super Lig side Bursaspor on Monday night, bared his heart in an exclusive interview with completesportsnigeria.com from his base.

Completesportsnigeri.com: Mikel, congratulations on scoring your first goal tonight (in the 3-1 win against Osmanlispor). You must be very pleased to open your goals account for the season?

Zenith Ziva

Mikel Agu: Yeah, thanks bro, I’m happy to score but, more importantly, I’m happier that we won. When you work so hard, it is always nice to win games.

Being your first goal, what does this goal mean to you?

Well, it’s my first goal for Bursaspor and I want to score more. I dedicate the goal to my wife and son. I’ve been waiting to score for my son since my wife was pregnant and I’m glad I could do finally get to do it for him and his mom. Hopefully more will still come.

And what do you think the victory meant for Bursaspor, given the team’s target for the season?

Our target for the season is to keep giving our best in each game, working hard to remain competitive and helping the team to win as many games as possible so that we can finish in a good position in the league. So, in that sense, you can say the win was a huge one for us and we want to keep winning.

Bursaspor have been doing well this season and you’re a big part of it with Ekong. What’s the secret?

No secret bro. It has been God. Though most of them here don’t believe in God but I do and I fully believe He’s the one behind everything happening for us so far. And we also have a very good coach in Paul Le Guen. One of the best I have worked with and this is not just because I’m playing regularly. He’s very knowledgeable about the game.

Bursaspor are now eigtht on the log but do you really think you can challenge the traditional teams like Galatasaray, Besiktas and Fenerbahce for a place in Europe?

Well, without trying to sound boastful, I see no reason why we cannot challenge them. Incidentally, we have already played against each of those big teams this season and though we lost, the games were really very close and could have gone either way. Against Galatasaray, the first half was very good, we played very well and created chances even more than they did but we were just unlucky not to make use of our chances. We even scored before them but we lost 2-1. It was a good game really. Shows the gap between us and the big teams is not as wide as one would have thought.

So, let’s talk about the national team. The Super Eagles will be at the World Cup in 2018. How does this make you feel that you’re part of the team that won the ticket?

See, to be honest, I think I have mixed feelings about the whole thing. Of course I’m happy we won the World Cup ticket and made the whole country happy but I’m sad when I remember the torrents of abuse that was directed at me by some people after the Zambia game. A lot of them criticized me after the game against Zambia and I think they were unfair to me. I mean we won the game for crying out loud and each player gave his all on the pitch yet I was singled out for criticism. Imagine what would have happened if we didn’t win that game?

Maybe the critics expected more from you because they knew you have the talent to do much more and the yellow card gave everybody anxiety because if you had gotten another one, playing 10 men against Zambia would have been difficult?

That’s possible but you should also understand the circumstances under which I went into the game. Nobody foresaw that there was going to be a change that early and because the tension was high in the game, it took me time before I could properly get into the match. I did everything the coach asked of me though the yellow card was not part of it but I think I settled down and helped the team more as the game progressed.

Now, as they say, criticism is a part of the job and it depends on how you react to it. So, will the critics affect you negatively or will they motivate you to do better now or what?

Yes, the criticism hurts me but it has made me to keep working harder. I just need to believe first in myself and try to prove all of them wrong. Even the big players do have their bad days in football. Trust me, I will win them over.

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  • You are a good player Ndubuisi that’s why our coach brought in to replace Onazi……. I believe u boy cause you are a good marker and controller midfielder

  • Joseph 4 years ago

    he needs to improve drastically or get booted out of the them

  • he dont hv d talent 2 represent naija

    • Prince Mikel agu needs to step up his game…..if he continues like this am sure he ain’t gan make it to Russia….

      Just saying……

  • The coach believe so much in him.May be there is something special the coach is seeing in him that many people have not seen

  • ish!!!! Trying to make a carmel pass through the eye of a needle. Even in the game against Cameroon, you were a minus to the squad

  • Eeeish, guys, please, please, please, biko nu, ejo ebabinu, don allah, You guys tone it down. Complete Sports interviewed him and you red what he complained about. So, the first thing he’ll do is to read these comments. How will that make him feel? You guys are confirming what he said. Haba, not fair nah! He might not have been an instant hit, but look closely and you’ll see a few touches of brilliance and potential. Rohr sees something in him, let’s be patient with him. He may soon start benching Onazi. At least of the guys that played the qualifiers, he’s one of the peole I’m nearly 100% sure will make the 23-man squad to Russia 2018, alongside players like Mikel, Moses, Ighalo, Ekong, Balogun, Simon etc. In fact, Iheanacho may not make it and there might be a few surprise inclusions like Olanrewaju, Onyekuru, Francis Uzoho (the Deportiva La corumna goalkeeper).

    • Ayphillydegreat 4 years ago

      How are you 100% sure that he will make the 23 man list? You’re kidding right? If the likes of Azubuike Okechukwu and Anderson Esiti are also called up. I’m sure there will be better options than Agu.

      • truth is some players are coach’s players..this guy has played in our last 3 matches and even when criticized Rohr jumped to his defence…I am almost certain this guy will make the world cup as Rohr isn’t ready to lose faith in him..good thing is he is getting regular footballer.this is a player that was rated higher than Etebo in the Portuguese Liga last season even though am a die-hard Etebo fan…I believe Agu will come better as the day passes by.would have loved to see Zubby but I strongly doubt if the opportunity will come as their might not be luxury of time

  • Don’t mind them, this is a country of over 200 million coaches. U did well to me, even though u were shaky at first but u adjusted well

  • That’s true, I think you really need to step up your game and justify the coach’s confidence in you by throwing you up into the field anytime he substitutes a player in the midfield, for me, you have been less convincing.
    Please prove us wrong…cos I believe the coach is seeing something special in you hence, the chances he’s giving to you.

    • Yes very true @yohanna,including him bagging needless yellow card after just few minutes after he was introduced to replace ogenyi onazi.More is expected of him anyway.

  • He don’t have football sense at all… I prefer Etebo to Agu

    • Yes Etebo is more matured and experienced in the middle of the pack x

      • Mr. Jidauna G.G 4 years ago

        I totally disagree with you… Agu is far intelligent maker, recovers fast, closes space in the midfield to cover the defense, and pushes attack forward with good passes just like Garba Lawal that was loved by virtually every coach of the super Eagles. Just wait and see how this young man will explode in Russia.
        That is what Rhor has seen in Agu that many have failed to see or notice. He is a beauty to watch in his club when playing.

  • I appreciate ur effort in that game bt I was expecting much from you yet I didn’t got what I expected but thank God we have made it at last

  • Yes!!! U gonna make big with eagle

  • You tried but I still think etebo,Ogu could be better….what’s that thing you are always chewing… Not nice for your midfield role plz

  • As for me, you’ve just got me behind you… Nothing do you.

  • The same Etebo that played against South Africa and performed woefully in the midfield with Onazi partnership. Against Cameroon in Yaounde,the coach changed Mikel and brought in Etebo again our Midfield collapsed in the second half. We were struggling, if not fine saves from our keeper, we would have lost that game in Yaounde. So I believe this Ndubisi Agu will be a great midfielder,.He adjusted well in that game against Zambia towards the end of second half. He needs more time to adjust fully to the coach style of play.

    • Ayphillydegreat 4 years ago

      How did Etebo played woefully against South Africa? And how did he played woefully against Cameroon in Yaounde? Abi which matches are you talking about? If there was a midfielder that played woefully against SA it was Onazi and against Cameroon in Yaounde Agu came in for Mikel Obi and the midfield collapsed. Did you watch Etebo against Algeria? Like someone said Agu is probably another Rohr boy, I like him too as a player and I believe he’s a talent, but will need to improve drastically if he’s to make the final 23.

  • He has the talent. He needs more time and may be exposure to friendly matches. He will be a great midfielder.

  • Don’t Be Afraid of any Thing….With UR mistake U correct UR self….

  • Mikel Agu is an important player for the eagles, I like his style and iam sure he’ll bench Onazi