African All Stars

2022 World Cup Qualifiers: Onazi reveals why he remains relevant to Super Eagles

14:17 EAT 16/03/2022
Ogenyi Onazi of Nigeria during the 2019 Afcon football qualifier between Nigeria.
The Saudi Arabia based midfielder is relishing the prospect of representing the Super Eagles when they face the Black Stars later this month

Ogenyi Onazi has explained how his return to international football will help Nigeria when they face Ghana in this month’s 2022 World Cup qualification play-off.

The Saudi Arabia midfielder was a surprise inclusion in Augustine Eguavoen’s Super Eagles squad to face the Black Stars. 

Despite being placed among the standby players, his recall was not well received by the fans.

However, the 29-year-old has stated what the three-time African kings would benefit from on his return after four years in the international wilderness. 

“It will in so many ways. Experience is one major [factor] ahead of the crucial game against Ghana,” Onazi told Punch.

“In football, you do not play games with only experienced players or only young players. There should always be a blend of both the experienced players and the talented ones, so you can have a perfect balance. 

“Look at the Italian national team that won the European Championship last summer. In defence, they had the likes of Leonardo Bonucci, Andreas Barezagli and Giorgio Chiellini, who have been with the Azzuri for a long time and are there because they are active.

“These players share knowledge with their younger teammates and help them integrate well into the team.”

“I’m not saying this because I fall into this category now, but because I started out as a young player and was drafted in when the likes of Joseph Yobo was captain, Vincent Enyeama, Austin Ejide, Emmanuel Emenike, Ike Uche were some of the leaders in the Eagles then,” he continued.

“I want to help the team achieve its goal, which is to qualify for the World Cup. It does not matter who is in charge, we must support the coach and his ideas.

Eguavoen had revealed why he included the former Lazio player in his squad to face Ghana. 

“The first game [against Ghana] is on May 25, there are still one or two games to be played before that game proper so when I spoke with my guys, yes Ogenyi [Onazi] is a good player,” he told reporters as quoted by Allnigeriasoccer.

“Whether he’s still good and can play at that level we don’t know but to pacify everybody, to just make sure there’s harmony here I put him on standby. 

“He’s on standby, but again I have the final say. Like I said before, I have my plan and it’s close to my chest.”