–Super Eagles star targets six maximum points against
Congo, South Africa
The Super Eagles of Nigeria may have been written off in their race to defend their AFCON title in Morroco next January, but Lazio of Italy midfield stalwart, Eddy Ogenyi Onazi is not conceding such thought.
The petite player tells Complete Sports Saturday in this interview that Eagles have resolved to grab the maximum points in their last two crucial games to book a ticket to Morocco 2015…
Accept our congratulations on your contract renewal. Would you say it came at the right time?
Absolutely! I couldn’t have expected it to happen at a time like this. I am happy to say that I have committed my future to Lazio and I am willing to help the club achieve it’s goals both domestically and internationally. Indeed, it has enabled me to settle well at the club.
It must have been a sigh of relief for Lazio, having successfully retained one of theirs at the club.
Yeah! The club is happy that I’m staying here at least for now. It was a huge relief too for the club president and players alike. It is good to stay where you’re loved. Lazio gave me the opportunity to showcase my talent and it is worth it if I stay to pay them back for their confidence in me. I see greater future in this club and surely will win more laurels here.
A lot of your fans back home wondered why you dotted the line for Lazio despite several offers from the English Premier League. Besides, Lazio seem to put experience ahead of youth. Do you think your future lies in this club?
It is important that people realize that I command a regular shirt at Lazio and am well loved here. Lazio began to show more belief in it’s youth after I broke into the senior team from Primavera; a league that is difficult to survive in. I was the one that destroyed that jinx of breaking into the senior team from the youth side. That has not happened for a long time but God used me by his grace to break that jinx. It was after that the likes of Keita and others started breaking into Lazio senior team. It was a difficult experience for me but I thank God all of that is history. I just want to commit my time to the club and help the side qualify for UEFA Champions League next season.
When will your England dream come true?
Surely by the special grace of God, it will come at God’s appointed time. It is every player’s dream to play in the English Premier League, but I will wait my time. The Italian Serie A has really toughened me and prepared me for the challenges ahead. I am happy I started it here. I just want to focus on Lazio’s success in the Italian Serie A.
Talking about the national team, it has been topsy-turvy for Nigeria in the AFCON 2015 qualifiers. Did you see this coming?
I don’t think so; I never expected us to be in our present position but again this is football and anything is possible as far as football is concerned. I know Nigeria is the team to defeat and every country gets extra motivation to beat Nigeria. We are aware of this and we the players are leaving no stone unturned to ensure we take every match seriously most especially in the AFCON qualifiers.
Pundits are of the opinion that Nigeria may not defend the AFCON trophy in Morocco next year.
(Cuts In) We have two more games to play and winning those games against Congo and South Africa is key to our qualifiers. People should not write us off yet until we play those matches. We had a bad experience against Sudan in Khartoum and that match should have been won by Nigeria. Playing on astro turf can be difficult for players. There are good astro pitches and there are bad ones like the one we played on in Khartoum. I had to undergo therapy at Lazio to see if I had damaged my ankle or knee. It was painful that we lost but thank God the return leg went in our favour. It will be do –or-die against Congo and South Africa. We need those six points to remain in contention and we the players have resolved to give our all against Congo this month. Who says Nigeria can’t win in Congo if South Africa can? We will triumph by the grace of God.
Congo will also offer to play Nigeria on astro turf in Ponte Noire, so there is no hiding place for Super Eagles.
Well, we have no choice other than to play there if they take us to astro turf. We are professionals and there is no turning back now at this juncture. Winning is all that matters, irrespective of how difficult it will be. We are condemned to beating Congo and South Africa to stand a chance of qualifying for Morocco 2015 AFCON. We the players have resolved to approach our remaining games like AFCON finals. We are ready to play our opponents anywhere at this stage. Nigeria must be in Morocco 2015 AFCON.
A lot has been said about the dwindling form of top Super Eagles players; a scenario many believe is responsible for the team’s struggle in the AFCON qualifiers. What is your take on this?
This is not the time to apportion blames on anybody, rather we need to support and rally round our national team. All I can say is that Super Eagles players are committed to qualifying Nigeria for Morocco 2015 AFCON. The truth is there are no minnows in African football; every country now wants to win the Nations Cup. It is up to us to keep moving ahead and getting better. We shall be in Morocco 2015 AFCON by God’s grace.
You featured as right full-back against Sudan in the return leg. What is the secret behind your versatility as a player?
God has been the pillar behind my success. I would not be here today without God’s favour. It feels great when your manager walks up to you and says he believes in you always and that you will be playing a different role today. That alone is enough motivation for me. I thank God I was able to do that effectively. I played a different role at AFCON 2013 and I feel fulfilled to leave my comfort zone and switch wings to ensure my country wins an important match. Besides, I thank the man of God, Prophet TB Joshua for his moral and spiritual support. He picked me up from nowhere and gave me the platform to showcase my talents, I am grateful to him too.