“We are not going to talk about this game being a revenge; but we don’t want to forget that South Africa partly contributed to our not going to the last AFCON held in Equatorial Guinea,” 24-year-old Onazi who plies his trade with Turkish side, Trabzonspor told CAFOnline.com
“This time around, we must bring back our pride and make sure that we get the three points off them (South Africa) on Saturday.”
This weekend’s encounter would be the 12th match-up between the two countries with South Africa’s yet to win a competitive match and Onazi affirmed the Super Eagles will maintain their superiority, insisting victory was the only option for the new-look Super Eagles under their new-found talismanic Franco-German coach, Gernot Rohr. Below are the excerpts from the interview with CAFOnline.com
What is mood of the team ahead of this weekend match against South Africa in Uyo t?
We are all perfectly well and ready for the upcoming task after the two friendly matches against Corsica and Togo. The coaching crew was able to see the new players who have demonstrated what they can do. I believe they have been picked based on the positions he needed to complement the team. Though I was not in France for the two friendly matches, I got good reports about all that transpired which is very commendable. We are back in Nigeria and started training officially, so we see how it goes.
There are new and young faces in the Super Eagles now, how are the older ones in the team preparing them for the big task ahead?
Part of my role is to boost the morale of the players and it is what I do openly and away from the public; I tell them we are in one spirit and accord because we love our country. The country is bigger than everybody and it is our responsibility to make the country proud anytime we are on the field. We try to unite ourselves and create a lot of fun within the team; on Monday, we welcomed the new players by singing and dance to create the right atmosphere ahead of the match. Thereafter, I told them that we all need to buckle up and they must be ready to give more than hundred percent once we are on the field representing our country. Nigerians don't forgive easily and it's our responsibility as players to our best once we put on the national team jerseys. Apart from the fact that Nigerians don’t forgive easily (when you lose); it should be a thing of pride for us to represent our country. As well as our families. So, when it comes to the game, we have to do our best and make sure we win the game.
Nigeria missed out of the last two African Cup of Nations, is this a big motivation for you guys this Missing out of the last two?
AFCON is what I don’t want to really talk about because it was very sad seen other countries in Equatorial Guinea and Gabon and we were not there to participate. It was a very terrible moment for me and I know that is the same feeling with every member of the team. This time around, we are not going to talk about this game being a revenge but we don’t want to forget that South Africa partly contributed to our not going to the last AFCON held in Equatorial Guinea. This time around, we must bring back our pride and make sure that we get the three points off them on Saturday.
Nigeria over the years, has better record against South Africa, how much of that would go into the game on Saturday?
This match on Saturday is not about having upper hand or lower hand in the past and we don’t want to talk so much about history between the two countries. We must respect every country we are playing against; and we want to respect South Africa. There are no small or big teams; but it our resolve to win all our matches and I’m happy that both the young and old players in the team share this belief. It’s important we start the race towards the next AFCON on a very good note and it’s important we get the three points off South Africa on Saturday. Uyo is our home and we are Nigerians; and we are the number one in Africa as far as we are concerned as such we must bring out our pride to play on Saturday; and that is what we are going to do.
You have played under several coaches in the Super Eagles, what does Gernot Rohr brings to the table for the team?
He is a very technical coach; a coach who knows what he wants and who knows what to do at every point in time; and he knows people who can do those things for him. That is the reason things have been going well for him and I pray that God will give us the grace so that things will continue to go very well with our team, the Super eagle of Nigeria. As you well know, he is very good with tactics and knows how to deploy the players in other to bring out the best in them. He just gives us the instructions and we just have to do things as he wants us to do. Everybody has his role to be played in the team and he gives everybody the right and freedom to express to do whatever he wants to do. But the most important thing is the collective objective of the team and that is winning.
What will be a good result for the Super Eagles against South Africa on Saturday?
FOR THE RECORDS: PAST RESULTS BETWEEN NIGERIA AND SOUTH AFRICA
1: 10 Oct 1992: Nigeria 4-0 South Africa – Lagos (World Cup Qualifier)
2: 16 Jan 1993: South Africa 0-0 Nigeria – Johannesburg (World Cup Qualifier)
3: 10 Feb 2000: Nigeria 2-0 South Africa – Lagos (AFCON semi-final)
4: 31 Jan 2004: South Africa 0-4 Nigeria – Monastir (AFCON group stage)
5: 17 Nov 2004: South Africa 2-1 Nigeria – Johannesburg (Mandela Challenge)
6: 1 June 2008: Nigeria 2-0 South Africa – Abuja (World Cup Qualifier)
7: 6 Sep 2008: South Africa 0-1 Nigeria – Port Elizabeth (World Cup Qualifier)
8: 11 Aug 2013: South Africa 0-2 Nigeria – Durban (Mandela Challenge)
9: 19 Jan 2014: South Africa 1-3 Nigeria – Cape Town (CHAN group stage)
10: 10 Sept 2014: South Africa 0—0 Nigeria – Cape Town (AFCON Qualifier)
11: 19 Nov 2014: Nigeria 2-2 South Africa – Uyo (AFCON Qualifier)
12: 29 Mar 2015: South Africa 1-1 Nigeria – Nelspruit (Friendly)