Eagles are fired up to beat Malawi - John Ogu

The new senior national team player has charged his team mates to beat the Flames of Malawi so as to get nearer their ambition to qualify for next year's World Cup in Brazil

By Kolade Oni

You had flight issues before coming down here. How have you been able to overcome that ahead of today’s 2014 World Cup qualifier against Malawi?

I missed my flight from Portugal to Spain and the other option I had was to get a ticket from Portugal to Istanbul. I stayed the whole day at Istanbul and I eventually got to Nigeria on Wednesday. I met an accident scene on my way to the airport and with this I had to miss my flight. But it is a good thing that I am here in company of my team mates and ready for the match on Saturday.

Hope you were not directly involved in the accident?

No I was not involved. An accident happened on the road and the road became blocked in Lisbon and before I could get to the airport from my house, it was late and so I missed my flight.

How much of sacrifice will you call this?

It's something we love to do. It is an honour to represent a nation like Nigeria. For me, making this sacrifice is a great feeling. I am not worried about what happened. I am here now and ready to lend my support to the Eagles.

During the Africa Cup of Nations (AFCON) in South Africa, you watched the team on television. What was the feeling like when you received an invitation barely a month later?

It was a great feeling and a dream come true. I am also surprised at the progress I have made in the team. In January this year I never thought I would be in the team two months later but today, I am in the Eagles to support the team with my ability and the skills and every other things I have. I am happy to be here. I am happy to wear this shirt. I will always give my best whenever I am wearing the green and white colours of Nigeria.

You had a dream start for the Eagles as you created the assist through which your friend and team mate [Nnamdi Oduamadi] equalised for Nigeria at the death against Kenya. What was the feeling like after the game?

Well, we needed to get all points at home against Kenya after we were crowned the champions of Africa barely a month earlier. It was a game we played with so many new players. We also started badly in the game but were able to fight back to avoid a defeat by getting a draw. As a football player, when you are introduced to the field of play, it is always your wish to contribute to the success of the team and to give your best for the team to progress. As am a team player and doing this for me is my job and I am happy doing this.

And shortly after your debut for the Eagles, you had an injury. How did you receive the news of your injury which then threatened your involvement in the games against Kenya and Namibia in Nairobi and Windhoek respectively?

Well, in our game we get to witness some days that we shall be out injured. I was injured and also had a minor surgery. I followed what the doctors in my team said to me. They said I would be out for three weeks. That is exactly what happened. As at that time, we were preparing for the FIFA Confederations Cup. I did everything possible so as to be fit and at the end of it, I was happy to be part of the team to the Confederations Cup in Brazil.

How was the experience like during the Confederations Cup for you with the fact that we played three matches and only won a game?

It was a great experience for us as players. It improved us as players. We know what we want to do and that is why we are taking this game against Malawi very seriously. We want to win to get to the next round and eventually qualify for the World Cup in Brazil. The [Confederations Cup] in was a great experience for us as we won one and lost two. What we need to do is to look at the positive part of the competition. We were able to play more together as a unit and it will no doubt help in team blending later on. We are moving ahead and the Confederations Cup is in the past, we need to look ahead.

What was the feeling like when you got your first invitation?

I was happy. I wasn't under pressure. I know that my coming in was to come give my best. It is also to come add to the talent already in the team. We were the new African champions and as a new player I just came in to play my game. It was a big challenge but since this is the only thing I do as a professional player, I knew what was at stake and I came in and worked hard. The rest is history.

How were you received by your teammates?

Everybody received me well. They all welcomed me with open hands. I was integrated almost immediately and it is the sole reason I will always give my best to the team. I just want to continue giving my best for the progress of the team.

Your debut in Calabar last March against Kenya also afforded you the opportunity to meet your role model, John Mikel Obi. How was it like meeting with him in the Eagles' camp?

It was also a dream come true getting to speak to him. It was fun getting to see someone you admire as a footballer. Mikel is someone I admire so much and he is my role model like I said. He has achieved a lot and he is still achieving a lot at his club and for the country. I look up to him a lot and playing in the same national team with him for me is a great feeling.

Last season your club, Académica de Coimbra performed brilliantly in the Portuguese League but the road has not been smooth this term. What is going wrong?

We had a better pre-season. We won 8 out of 9 games. I don't know and I can't really explain what went wrong. It is football and it just happened that way. In football it is either you win, draw or lose. It is not going very well for us now despite a good pre-season we had. We lost to Sporting Lisbon because they are a better side. It is a lesson for us.

The team has had two training sessions before you joined, how ready are you for the game against Malawi?

I have been playing with some of the players for some while now. I came late but if I'm given the opportunity I will give my best. If I don't get it I will support my team.

What should Nigerians be expecting from you on Saturday?

They should be expecting victory from us. We are very happy for their support. We are eager to win this game against Malawi and I am sure we are going to win because we have a good squad.

How has the support been from your family ever since you got your first call up to the Eagles?

I'm blessed to have a family like mine.  My parents are happy and my siblings too have been very supportive. They have supported me through their prayers and loving care. I am grateful to them. My father's name is Mr Joel Ogu and my mother's name is Mrs Obiageli Ogu. I also have four other siblings that I will describe as very wonderful.