Nigeria Gave Everything Against Algeria At 2019 AFCON But Was Unlucky – Onyekuru

 

 

Super Eagles forward, Henry Onyekuru, was on Channels Television’s Sports This Morning on Friday.

Onyekuru, 23, recently rejoined  French Ligue 1 side, Monaco, after a loan spell with Galatasaray in the Turkish Super Lig.

The forward who just celebrated his one-year marriage anniversary missed out of the Eagles team to the 2018 World Cup but was part of the Nigerian side that placed third, one year later, at the Africa Cup of Nations (AFCON). 

He spoke on a wide range of issues including his best moments with the Super Eagles, how Nigeria lost the 2019 AFCON semi-final against Algeria and his dreams of playing in the English Premier League.

Onyekuru also talked about his encounter with Brazilian defender,  Dani Alves, how he felt when he received his first national team call-up as well as his plans for the future among others.

Below are the excerpts from his interview: 

His reaction when he received the first invitation to the Super Eagles?

I was very happy; I called my mom first. I called her because we used to watch the games (Eagles) together way back then. It has been a dream for me to play for the Eagles.

She named me after Henry Nwosu (former Nigerian star). As a young player playing at the National Stadium in Surulere (Lagos), we had that dream of playing for the senior team.

I was sleeping when the coach called me and spoke in French, asking me if I want to play for Nigeria.

Did he cry when he got the call-up?

No,  I was just so excited I could not eat. I was now thinking way back how we dreamt of playing for Nigeria.

I called my friends that we used to play together at the National Stadium (Lagos).

Experience so far with the Super Eagles?

It is a good experience. So far so good, it has been what I expected. The last AFCON we got third place.

We did our best in AFCON. To be among such players in the country is a good thing and I think we are on the right track.  We have a good coach, we have a young team, top guys, good players. We fight together and we play together. We put some back things behind and we push ahead.

There is this togetherness and everybody having the same goals in the team.

AFCON 2019 Experience?

I was ready to give everything to take the game to extra time but we were so unlucky. They did not want the game to go into extra time. Mahrez, a top player, just hit the target and that was it.

We had chances more than them but the coach had his own strategy. But we were there to give our 100 percent and do the best we have to do.

Football returning to normal with COVID-19?

Yes, it is a matter of time. I believe the spectators will soon be back to the pitch when the cure is found, playing without the fans is not the same. When you are playing in an empty stadium, there is no motivation.

On why he did not stay at Galatasaray till the end of the season after COVID-19 disruption?

Before I left Monaco in January, a new coach (Robert Moreno) wanted me to stay but I told him I needed to breathe because the last six months weren’t good . . .

And I wanted to play regular football and gain my confidence back. He came to watch me play against Fenerbache and ever since then we chat and he wanted me for the pre-season and when the loan deal expired, he told me to come back.

On leaving Everton and returning to England later?

Premier League has always been my dream and I hope to return someday.  I’m still on it. I have not given up on getting back to England.

On his experience with his first club Eupen in Belgium?

It was an amazing experience for me. I went there when they were in the second division, and arrived from Aspire Academy, very young and it wasn’t easy for me; it was difficult because I arrived in winter.

I was in the second team for six months and it got to one stage they were in a critical time, the year they almost went down to 3rd division, so the coach said ‘this young guy is doing well, why don’t we just give him a chance?’ I got my chance as a striker and started scoring.

For fans, it is normal to compare players. We have different techniques and abilities as well. For them to compare players, it is normal but inside the pitch, it is totally different.

Best football moments?

Our qualification for the 2018 World Cup.  The win against Cameroon at the 2019 AFCON. I did not play, I was on the bench but I saw the guys giving everything they had on the pitch. At a point, I thought we had lost the game.

Cameroon had a good coach and experienced players; so for the guys (Eagles), we gave our best and we had an experienced striker in Odion Ighalo.

Where he sees himself in the next two, three years for you?

It is a challenge for me as a young player to work more hard, to be in the team. It is very important. For now, it is just to work hard and be in the team and the rest is left for me to do on the field.

Defenders he had difficulty playing against?

Dani Alves. I was in Anderlecht then.  Playing against him was a good and tough game. We had a chat after the game and he told me I’m a good player and to keep it up.

Eagles Star Simon Moses Signs Four-Year Deal With French Side Nantes

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Simon Moses was part of the Nigerian team that won a bronze medal at the 2019 AFCON. Photo: Twitter/Simon27Moses

 

Super Eagles star, Simon Moses, has signed a new four-year permanent deal with French side, Nantes, valued at €6.5 million.

The Nigerian, who had been on a season-long loan to the French side from Levantes since last summer, will now stay with the Yellow and Green until the 1st of July, 2024.

READ ALSO: I Have Not Gotten A Fresh Offer From Arsenal, Says Aubameyang

“FC Nantes has exercised the option to purchase from the Spanish Levante Unión Deportiva (La Liga) club for the definitive transfer of Moses Simon (24) to FC Nantes,” the club said in a statement.

“Loaned this season to the Yellow and Green, the Nigerian international will be linked to the Erdre Banks Club until 2024, from July 1, 2020.”

The club described the player as instrumental to the team’s outing this season where he bagged nine goals and eight assists in all competitions.

“Moses Simon quickly adapted to French football, causing a lot of damage in the opposing defenses!” the club said, adding that his pacy nature “quickly proved to be to his advantage in the left lane of the yellow and green attack but also as a center-forward.”

‘Better Things’ Ahead

The player equally took to his official Twitter handle to thank Levante for his time at the club, saying “you guys will always be in my heart.”

“I want to use this opportunity to formally say goodbye to everybody at
Levante,” he tweeted. “The fans, technical crew, management and my teammates for the love and acceptance you guys will always be in my heart.”

He added: “To my new family, Nantes,  cheers to more better things to come by the grace of God.”

Canary Of The Season 

In May, he was named the Player of the Season for the Canary for the 2019/2020 campaign.

According to the club, the Nigerian scored the highest number of votes from the side’s fans.

Simon got 40 per cent of the votes cast by the 3,500 voters, according to the French team.

“Moses Simon left a lasting impression at the club,” the team said. “He has been voted Canary of the 2019-2020 season.”

Nigerian Star Ighalo Eager To Extend Man United Deal

A file photo of Odion Ighalo. Source: [email protected]

 

Former Super Eagles star, Odion Ighalo, is eager to extend his stay with Manchester United until the end of the Premier League season. 

Ighalo, 30, joined the Premier League side from Chinese Super League outfit, Shanghai Shenhua in January and his contract with the Old Trafford side will expire on May 31.

The Premier League is expected to restart in June after going on a break due to the COVID-19 outbreak, but with the Chinese league set to resume, the Nigerian may return to the Asian nation.

READ ALSO: Football To Allow Five Substitutions When Play Restarts

Staying back with Red Devils until the end of the season, however, is something the former Watford man wants

“I would like to finish the season if it’s possible,” Ighalo was quoted as telling BBC Sport.

The player noted that before the season went on a break, he was in a good form, and scoring goals for Ole Gunnar Solskjaer’s side.

According to him, he gave his best to the team and is hoping that play will restart soon.

Reflecting on the team’s form before the league was paused, Ighalo said United was having a “good momentum” but expressed worries that since he is on loan, his time with the club may be cut short.

The Premier League giants are keen to extend Ighalo’s contract with the player having scored four goals in eight matches in all competitions for the club.

Clubs and players are passing through a lot this period as they have not been able to do what they love, according to the 2019 Africa Cup of Nations (AFCON) highest goalscorer.

He explained that as efforts are being made to restart and finish the season, contract talks would not be on the radar at the moment.

“I just want everyone to be safe and see what the future holds,” he added.

With nine games remaining, Solskjaer’s men are fifth on the league log and Ighalo hopes the Premier League will take the right decision and restart play when it is safe to do so.

Clubs in England’s top division will meet on Monday to discuss a possible resumption date for the season.

Ahmed Musa Denies Being Infected With COVID-19

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Eagles captain, Ahmed Musa. Photo: [email protected] Musa

 

Super Eagles captain, Ahmed Musa, has denied claims that he has contracted COVID-19.

In a post on his official Instagram handle, the former CSKA Moscow forward, described the claims as “fake news.”

The Eagles skipper lamented that at a time people were battling a pandemic, some individuals are bent on gaining popularity by spreading falsehood online.

READ ALSO: Tottenham Stars Aurier, Sissoko Apologise For Disobeying Social Distancing Advice

“It has come to my notice that certain individuals have decided to post false news about me testing positive to COVID-19,” Musa said.

“This is a pandemic taking peoples lives in thousands; so it is sad that some people want to use this to gain followers or views on their pages by spreading falsehood.”

He explained that he came back from Saudi Arabia with his family and they went on self-isolation in line with government’s directive.

“My family and I came in from Saudi Arabia and decided to follow the government’s rule of isolation for 14 days, not because any of us have the virus. We are perfectly okay and have not tested positive to the virus,” he added.

The 2013 Africa Cup of Nations (AFCON) winner, therefore, warned people not to fall for the malicious messages circulating about him and his family.

“Stay safe, maintain social distancing,” he added.

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