Thursday Oct 11, 2012. 10:26
Ogenyi Onazi is
poised to make his Nigeria full international debut on Saturday three years
after he featured for the countrys schoolboys.
"I am here to do
my best to see that we secure a ticket to the 2013 Nations Cup on Saturday,"
Onazi declared to AfricanFootball.com on arrival for the Nations Cup qualifier in Calabar
He said it is a
dream come true to be called up by the Eagles.
This is a dream come true for me
because that has been my ultimate ambition since I started the game. It is an
honour and I will use my chance well, he said.
I will say a
big thank you to God because without him, nothing is possible. To play for my
fatherland is what I always wanted to do and so I now excited to now be part
of the Super Eagles.
I will do my
best to lift the team higher. I am sure we will be fine.
It was only
three years ago that Onazi and the Golden Eaglets reached the final of the FIFA
U17 World Cup staged by Nigeria. They would lose
the top prize to Switzerland.
Onazi was the Eaglets
defensive midfield anchor but following a first-half capitulation in the opening
match against Germany, coach John Obuh was forced to drop him and draft Ramon
thereafter restricted to a cameo role at the tournament.
2010, one of the Eaglets Class of 2009, Stanley Okoro, will win his first cap
for the Super Eagles against Madagascar in a 2012 Nations Cup qualifier.
Onazi is now set to
become the second such Eaglet to fly with the Super Eagles.
The player, whose
versatility means he could play as a defensive or offensive player in midfield
or defence, is riding on his showings this season for Italian club SS Lazio to
aim for the top.
Last season, Onazi made his Lazio debut when he came on as a substitute against
Atalanta. It was the breakthrough he needed to work his way into the clubs
He has so far made
four appearances in the Italian Serie A and he has featured in all three UEFA
Europa League games.
Former Eagles striker
Ayo Makinwa has been mentoring Onazi in Italy, where he also featured for Lazio,
and he told AfricanFootball.com the youngster has the character to go very far in
"Onazi is a
lively person and good player who believes in himself and is ready to learn, I
am not surprised with his progress. He will go places with his qualities and
character," remarked Makinwa.
It was only a year ago that he failed
to make the cut to the FIFA U20 World Cup in Colombia after he was part of the
Flying Eagles training squad in Portugal and Panama.
Born in Jos, little Onazi started with the Pepsi
Academy in Jos, where I played for just six months, before he joined El Kanemi
Junior FC of Jos who produced Chelsea star Mikel Obi, Joseph Akpala, Chinedu
Efugh, late Henry Ihelewere, among others.
One of the coaches
who nurtured this rough diamond, Bala Musa aka Haji B, told AfricanFootball.com
that Onazi was one of the most dedicated players in his time at El Kanemi.
"Onazi is one of
the dedicated and committed players that I have worked with. He is a hard
working player who never gives up. He is always ready to listen. He was ready
to play any role on the pitch that he played as goalkeeper too, said Musa.
I have always known
he will be a great player because he took his game very seriously. His hard work
is now paying off. Some of his mates are Sulaiman Musa (Valerenga of Norway),
Late Henry Ihelewere and Ochie Okonkwo who is in Malta. I am sure he will do
well with Eagles."
From El Kanemi
Juniors, the budding Onazi moved to Lagos where he featured for My People Football
Club founded by Prophet T.B.Joshua, the founder of Synagogue Church of All
T.B. Joshua would later bankroll the
search by Onazi and his Eaglets teammate Sani Emmanuel for a club in Europe,
spanning England, Greece and eventually Italy, where Onazi has now finally
pitched tent and he is already waiting to excel.