Onyekuru Rues World Cup Miss, Eyes AFCON 2019 in Egypt


Super Eagles forward, Henry Onyekuru has opened up on his 2018 World Cup miss with the national team but know hopes for a better ending to the season to enable him to fulfill his dream of representing Nigeria at a major international competition.

The 21-year-old spoke to AOIFootball.com after his impressive performance with Galatasaray on Sunday, stating that not going to the World Cup in Russia was a bitter pill to swallow and a disappointing moment for him.

“It was very disappointing but I am a strong believer in Christ. I feel everything happens for a reason and God’s will be done. Although at the time I was frustrated I still supported our nation at the World Cup as if I was there.

“Now I have another opportunity at the AFCON in June. It’s not by my power or will to be there but hopefully by His grace, I will stay fit and hope to have done enough to earn my place in the final squad,” Onyekuru said.

He, however, revealed his match rituals before going into every game stating that he prays and speaks with his family

“Praying, talking with my family and going back to my previous game to make things right has been the ritual for me,” Onyekuru concluded.

Having started the season brightly with Belgian club Anderlecht, the 20-year-old suffered an injury in December 2017 which kept him out for the better part of the season.

He was however overlooked by Coach Gernot Rohr for the World Cup party in Russia.

Interestingly, while Onyekuru is dreaming for a place in the Nigerian team to Egypt in summer, another Super Eagles forward who has dropped in the pecking order, Simy Nwankwo has played down suggestions that the Italian Serie B is weak and has affected his game since dropping down with relegated Crotone.

Speaking from his base in Italy, the 2018 World Cup attacker gave insights about the league, whilst insisting the level of competition has been amazing.

“Trust me when I say it’s very competitive and unpredictable. There’s not much difference in quality between teams and that makes every game super competitive and that’s a great challenge,” Nwankwo said.

Despite several reports linking him away from the Serie B club both in the summer and winter, the Nigerian surprisingly stayed put but insists his decision has made him a better player all-around.

“On paper, every team or player coming down from the top league seem too big for the lower league and that ends up playing a negative role in players’ heads.

“But that’s where a lot of mental toughness comes in for me. I need to have the humility to respect and appreciate the competition I’m facing if there’s any chance of getting back up. When they say you’re good it simply has to be on every level for me and yes I’m ready and even more mature to get back up and show how much I’ve grown,” Nwankwo concluded.

Simy insights can also be backed by the amazing transformation of Italian giants Juventus which returned from Serie B in the 2006-2007 season with players like, Alessandro Del Piero, Gianluigi Buffon, David Trezeguet, and Pavel Nedved to entirely dominate the league since their resurgence.

Simy, 26, has scored 12 goals this season and will almost certainly quit Crotone at the end of the season with his contract set to expire in June.