Ogenyi Onazi has expressed his delight at seeing the Super Eagles experience a lengthy campaign and a bronze medal finish at the just concluded Africa Cup of Nations, Egypt 2019, picking a few teammates that impressed him the most.
Onazi, 26, who was a key figure the last time Nigeria won the AFCON title in South Africa, missed the continental championship due to a long-term injury.
The former Lazio midfielder however watched all the Super Eagles games in Egypt and was impressed by the efforts of the duo that replaced him in the national team’s engine room.
“They (Super Eagles players at the AFCON) all did, from the goalkeeper, to the defence line, in midfield- where Wilfred Ndidi and Oghenekaro Etebo were Trojans,” the 2009 FIFA U-17 World Cup silver medalist told the Punch in an interview.
Super Eagles forward Odion Ighalo was the star of the showpiece, banging in five goals and picking up the top scorer award at the Africa Cup of Nations but Onazi always knew what the former Watford striker was capable of.
“For Odion Ighalo, I wasn’t surprised by his scoring prowess in Egypt. He has always been that striker you can rely on. It’s so sad that he’s retired now.
The Shanghai Shenhua attacker was not the only one who retired after the completion of the AFCON, with team captain, John Obi Mikel announcing his retirement earlier.
Onazi, who has seen Mikel join him at Trabzonspur ahead of the new season, believes the Super Eagles will feel the loss of the former Chelsea midfield general.
“Yes, we will miss his leadership qualities, but I’m happy he’s going to be playing for Trabzonspor and I can continue to learn from him probably till he hangs his boot finally.
“I believe the Super Eagles have some leaders in the making and they will eventually cope as well.”