INTERVIEW – Onazi: Eagles Unlucky In Russia, We Can’t Let NFF Crisis Stop Our AFCON Dreams

INTERVIEW – Onazi: Eagles Unlucky In Russia, We Can’t Let NFF Crisis Stop Our AFCON Dreams

Super Eagles midfielder Ogenyi Onazi reveals in this exclusive Interview with Completesportsnigeria.com’s JOHNNY EDWARD, how the team handled their heartbreaking exit from the Russia 2018 FIFA World Cup and looks forward to their next assignments, hoping the Amaju Pinnick, Chris Giwa Nigeria Football Federation crisis will not derail their plans to qualify for their first Africa Cup of Nations since 2013. Excerpts….

You were one of the key players during the 2018 FIFA World Cup qualifiers for the Super Eagles of Nigeria, but unfortunately, you didn’t play a single match in Russia. How devastating was that?

Well, we thank God for everything. When we started the qualifiers we did all we could to put the country first to ensure we qualified without any problems. It was perfect, but getting to the World Cup things began to change.

In all situations I always give thanks to God. We went to the World Cup and things weren’t the way they should be but it’s all good. We’ve done our best and we have to be positive for the next one to come. I must confess it was disappointing.

The Super Eagles were just minutes away from securing another round of 16 place in the competition until Marcos Rojo scored that late winner for Argentina. What was it like on the substitutes bench before and after the goal was scored?

It was very disappointing. As at that time, I was warming up to be introduced. I was also shouting at the second assistant coach for them to make changes to defend and make sure we secured the draw.

We tried to get a goal but it was too late. We were just unlucky because we had more talents in our squad to the World Cup in Russia not to have reached the round of 16.

Brazil, France, Belgium and Croatia are the remaining teams at the World Cup, which team do you tip to win? I know you have a soft spot for the English because I know you crave to play in the English Premier League?

It’s quite difficult to call. All four teams left in the tournament are good teams and it will take a team that will go the extra mile to win this World Cup. They all look good to win it but let’s see how the games will go.

You were linked with a move away from Trabzonspor last season, will you be staying at the club this season?

I really don’t know. There are offers but I need to sit down with my manager to work something out.

The Super Eagles will play Seychelles in a 2019 African Cup of Nations qualifiers in Victoria in September. What must be done for Nigeria to win that game following the team’s painful exit at the 2018 FIFA World Cup in Russia?

For now everybody is shattered. It was a disappointing World Cup for me. I think we just need to bring ourselves back together and hope the issues with the Federations don’t affect our preparations.

The most important thing is to put the country first. Other personal issues should not derail our ambition to qualify for the Africa Cup of Nations. We missed the last two editions and we must raise ourselves to beat the odds and qualify for the tournament.

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  • Where is Reuben Gabriel.

  • Haymaker 3 years ago

    Why are we still hearing from Onazi? I think the England game was his last time in the super eagles jersey. He is past his prime and adds no value to the team.

  • Sunnyb 3 years ago

    Can somebody please tell this old man to give rooms to young and more skillful players. Iheanacho, Onazi, Joel Obi, Ighalo, should please go and relax.for now.

  • Presh 3 years ago

    My pain with the African mentality is God, there is God with all due respect, but see those teams still playing in the world cup don’t just talk in all situations we thank God, that comments rings real meaning, all i can say for now, Onazi was a dissapointment,Kelechi i hope you see Mbappe, that wing Rohr kept you was for you to deliver like Mbappe delivered, yes football is not easy, but its your job, you got to give it 110%, you didn’t match it, so Kelechi you days may soon be numbered, i bet you, Dakite, you see how he is he responds when given a chance, you were no were near,then as for Victor Agali, you shouldn’t have allowed Nepotism come in when given a chance, i think you brought us Joel Obi, Joel wasn’t what we wanted, you know we had Raheem Lawal, you didn’t scout well, no you wanted your own to come in, i think Onazi’s time is up, focus on your club, Musa thank you, Mikel thank you, and all others thank you.

  • Some of these SuperEagles are hypocrites,establishment people. They’ve all turned to spokesmen for a failed coach to remain in his good books. Rohr and the technical crew tossed the joy of Nigerians into a burning furnace. I’m delighted not all Eagles are so tainted. And Onazi won’t be man enough to say that Rohr and his crew messed up. Your time is up, bro. We need a completely revamped team: Nwakali x2, Sadiq, Almpasu — name them. All old and unproductive soldiers should Go!

    • Chima E Samuels 3 years ago

      With Rohr all this Nwakali and co will still play with fear and lose. The problem is not most of the players because the above names players will not be better than iwobi. The players are managed by an inferior coach who is jittery. A Samson Siasia or Renard will bring out the best of his players. I watched morocco’s matches and I was amused at they kind of attacking play they exhibited only to be denied by the dubious VAR

  • Chima E Samuels 3 years ago

    So you know about luck when you guess where dancing Shaku Shaku instead training,playing well and praying for luck. Lol luck is indeed a good footballer now awadays everybody is just asking for luck. When you are blessed luck will always come my take is that we should just get things right and luck will follow suit

  • Bestsports. 3 years ago

    Onazi tiny veil dig at coach rohr! He was warming up to be introduced and he said he shouted at the second assistant coach to make defensive changes but they abysmally failed to follow up. But why haven’t they sacked coach Rohr by now??? Nff federation members are full of jokers!

  • Onazi thanks alot for services you have rendered to our father land, some of us can still remember vividly how you single handedly kept France at bay at 2014 world cup before the unfortunate injury that led to your subtitution, that gave France the opportunity to beat us in that match, however, i will advice you to retire from international football if you are deem surplus for requirement, and concentrate on your club football because you can’t give what you don’t have anymore, although some of us still appreciate your love and services you have rendered to our father land in the past but they say is now history, i wish you best of luck in the remainder of your football career, God bless Nigeria.

  • Adinoi, thank you so much for your eloquently delivered balanced piece above; it is brilliant.

    It only seems like yesterday that mighty France identified Onazi as the engine room of the Super Eagles that had to be sabotaged for them to have any chance of progressing to the quarter-finals in a tightly contested match against the Super Eagles.

    Onazi was a joy to watch, marauding in front of Nigeria’s back to devour French attacking initiatives before they germinated into anything meaningful.

    Then it dawned on the French, get rid of Onazi and you postpone the chances of Nigeria equalling Cameroon, Senegal and Ghana’s effort for another 4 years, at least.

    The rest, like they say, is history.

    Going into the 2018 World Cup, it was almost too painful to watch the progressive, exponential and rapid decline of Onazi’s game so much so that the stubbornness of Coach Rohr – epitomsised in his single-minded decision to field Ighalo in the face of the striker’s diminishing returns – did not manifest in considering Onazi for any game in the mundial.

    Everything that defined him 4 years ago appeared to have deserting him: passing – poor; positioning – poor; precision – poor; tacklings – clumsy; interceptions – dead; movement – sterile; finesse – don’t be silly!

    However, whilst it’s easy for the pain of Nigeria’s early exit at this World Cup to make his recent shortcomings all the more annoying, I will never lose sight of the Onazi that won us the 2013 Afcon and did his part to ensure that the scores remained 0:0 against France before his enforced departure led to the collapse of Nigeria’s midfield and ultimate exit from the Rio 2014 World Cup.

    That said, in the words of Adinoi and Bro Sunnyb, you can’t give what you (no longer) have; hence, if it is time to hang up the international boot, I would encourage Mr Onazi to do so graciously.

  • Chidi 3 years ago

    My guys lets tell ourselves the truth we tend to overrate our players,this is worldcup let’s see it as world war were n how good is our arsenal ,how many of our players played at d champions league?who is our star boy?against Argentina if the team kept  dia concentration d match would have ended in draw for Christ sake let’s stop insulting GR n look inward,if Moses have covered d space on time rojo won’t capitalize on it ,d bottom line is this it’s not d coach s fault that we lost but d players they didn’t up their game n we didn’t take our chane when we have it,these guys r professionals n football is what they do for a living there r things they should on their,like oliseh once said at France 98 d coach asked them to play a 442 formation n after playing for 15minis is not working against bulgaria d players decided within  themselves to switch to 433 n it worked an immediately de scored de killed game,the players r ready to take d risk n bear d outcome of he result,when GR said his boys r not ready he knows what he is talkin is not about belittling them or demoralizing them but only d wise hearts understand,
    GR has done pretty well n should continue till after afcon 2019 we will access him n his team it’s only a clueless nff board that will sack him, beside he still has 2yrs contract dat will xpire by 2020 if u sack him now u will pay him off n we will b on d losing side since he has shown d zeal to continue n d teams future is bright let’s allow him to see off his contract

  • Presh 3 years ago

    At least everyone saw what France did today,Mbappe and co were holding ball in corner sides,Mbappe of 19years old,my players like kelechi,will still want to score,even at 1-1 my players were ballooning the ball off,instead of looking for means to hold play. Obama bye.