Ahead of the eagerly-anticipated encounter, Super Eagles coach Austin Eguavoen included Onazi in the stand-by list – a move which drew questions from fans and the local media.
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Onazi, who was part of the team that won the Africa Cup of Nations in 2013, has not featured for Nigeria since 2019. He currently plays club football for Al-Adalh in Saudi Arabia’s second division.
Fans, therefore, questioned the importance of the inclusion of the 29-year-old midfielder in the list.
Onazi, speaking exclusively with Omasports, noted that he doesn’t listen to what’s been said online and added that his inclusion isn’t a surprise to him.
“It’s not a surprise for me because I’m still playing and I’m ready to play anytime and when it comes to the national team, I’m always at the service of the nation – to always give my best for the country,” Onazi told Omasports.
“Yes it’s been a while I was in the national team, but when we talk about this very game – home and away that will take us to the World Cup [it is very important]. When I got a call from the coach, he told me how important it is – and I also know how important it is. We need experience to be able to tackle this game. It’s not a game of saying where do you play or where do you come from or whatever you’re doing.
“The likes of [Odion] Ighalo, the likes of Ahmed Musa and the rest who are in the list, we need to put our heads together. This is a national issue, not an individual issue. We are not playing a singles sport, we need to bring heads together to make the right things at the right time.”
Onazi, who made his Super Eagles debut in 2012, played at the World Cup in 2014. A year before, he helped Nigeria to Nations Cup glory in South Africa. He believes his experience playing at the highest level as well as his skills and ability will benefit the Super Eagles at this time, adding that what matters more for the national team is teamwork and not the club a player turns out for.
“Of course I know what I can bring to the team. I have played in this game. I have the experience. I have played in the World Cup twice and won the Nations Cup and I know 100% what I’m going to bring to this team. Whether anybody likes it or yes, it is what I know I know. This is my own field and we know what it takes to be able to get to that point.
“Personally, I don’t listen to what they write online. I’m still on the reserve list, not yet on the main list so we can’t tell what’s going to happen. Let’s keep it that way and then we’ll see what’s going to happen.
“As far as I’m concerned, football in this present situation now – it doesn’t matter if you’re playing in Manchester United or you’re playing in Kazakhstan or wherever. You’re not taking your club to go and play in the national team, you’re taking your individual skill and ability to join with your fellow players and make a team.
“During my time at the national team, I never had a problem with anybody. I’ve always been a person in the middle – between the young and the old – to make them integrate into the team. When I’m on the pitch, I give my all until I’m almost dead.”