Super Eagles midfielder John Ogu is one of the players that will make their debut at the 2018 FIFA World Cup. The Hapoel Beer-Sheva star in this interview with Completesportsnigeria.com’s SEMIU OSHO speaks on the chances of the team and what lessons the team has learnt from their friendlies…
How eager and prepared are you to make your World Cup debut in Russia?
To be honest, physically, I feel great. I just ended a tough season in Israel and winning the league title was a big plus and I think I’m ready physically and personally looking forward to the World Cup. I’m happy to be here to get a chance to prove that I can play and help the team and I am also happy that the manager has me in his plans.
I’m a player that is always willing to learn so I was just waiting for my time. The team that qualified for the World Cup was doing well and there was no how the manager was going to choose us ahead of any player so I was just waiting for my time if the manager trusts in me. Because at the end of it all we are just here to win for our country.
What are the lessons learnt from the series of friendly games played so far?
Every game has really shown that we have to wake up. At the World Cup there’s no time to work on your mistakes. The game against England has shown that we need to train harder in set pieces. We need to be ready to cut out balls coming through. In the last two games, we conceded from set-pieces so Nigerians should not be worried.
It’s a friendly game, we try to work together and work on our mistakes and also improve ahead of the next game. Nigerians should keep supporting, they should give us more confidence. The defeats are a wake-up call for us for the World Cup.
What are the chances of the Super Eagles in Group D?
We have a chance to advance to the next round from this group but we have to take every game as it comes. We are aware that it’s not going to be easy. We are in a group that has nations that are very strong but you know at the World Cup anything can happen. We are going there to fight to try and win our games. We just have to work hard as a team and try to win games.
What are your targets in Russia?
For me as a player, I haven’t really set a target for myself. Football is a team game and we all have a common goal which is to take Nigeria far at this tournament and make everyone back home happy. If the team is doing well, I’m happy with that. My goal is for the team to progress to the next round to the quarter-final, the semi-finals, final and compete for the cup. But we know it’s not going to be easy. I’m that player that believes that anything can happen. If we go there and fight for each other we can make things happen at the World Cup.
What are your best World Cup memories?
My best World Cup memories will be the one at France 1998. I remember the game between Spain and Nigeria when we came from 2-1 down to win 3-2. I can still remember the goal Sunday Oliseh scored. That memory is still in me. I can’t forget that day. It still feels like yesterday.
I wasn’t in the team then, I was just like every kid on the street screaming after the win. I can’t wait to get my turn and try and recreate that moment and make many Nigerians back home happy.
You have a year left on your current deal with Hapoel Beer-Sheva, and with the summer transfer window open now, are there plans to move to a bigger league?
Of course, I am. If I say I’m not looking forward to moving to a bigger league, then I’m lying. I have a contract with my team in Israel. I have won the league three times in a row and I play in front of fans that love me. I’m open to challenges if it’s destined for me to play in the top leagues. I want to achieve that but I have to be professional about it. I need to respect my club. If any team needs me they should do the right thing, calling my club and if Hapoel Beer-Sheva is willing to let me leave then I will go with their blessings and move on with my career.
Could you share with us how you prepare for games on matchdays?
On game days, I try to focus and imagine how I want the game to turn out. I’m always nervous, it’s always a different me on game day. Those who know me very know this. You may see me with an angry face but that”s how I get prepared. I listen to gospel music and when it’s time to go I pray to God and step on the pitch and try to play football.