Nigeria coach Augustine Eguavoen has come out to explain his decision to name midfielder Ogenyi Onazi in Super Eagles’ provisional squad for the upcoming 2022 World Cup qualifying tie against Ghana.
The 29-year-old, who currently plays for Saudi club Al-Adalah, made a return to the Super Eagles squad as one of the standby players ahead of the two-legged fixture but his inclusion was not well received by the fans.
Onazi, who was named in the final squad for the 2014 FIFA World Cup in Brazil and started in all four games as the Super Eagles were eliminated by France in the Round of 16, made the standby list alongside Chidozie Awaziem, Jamilu Collins, Chidera Ejuke, Taiwo Awoniyi, Paul Onuachu, and Peter Olayinka.
Eguavoen has stated the inclusion of the former Lazio player was also recommended by his associates but he was not sure whether he was still good enough to play at the highest level.
“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,” Eguavoen 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.”
On Monday, Onazi said he will not be distracted by critics, who have questioned his inclusion in the squad but insisted his focus is to play for the Super Eagles.
“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,” Onazi said.