Ahead of the 2019 Africa Cup of Nations in Egypt, one area that will give the Super Eagles manager sleepless night is the striking role but not in terms of lack of it but who to select. One player that is not ready to let the opportunity that came his way slip is Paul Onuachu. He tasted few minutes of action in Nigeria’s last qualifier match against Seychelles and scored the lone goal in the international friendly with Egypt three days later and on Monday he scored a brace for his club to remind Rohr of his importance
Paul Onuachu was back on a score sheet after netting a brace in FC Midtjylland away win over FC Nordsjælland in their Danish Superliga clash on Monday.
Onuachu has failed to score for FC Midtjylland in the last three games with his last goal for the club in the Danish Cup 4-0 win against OB Odense early last month which was also a brace.
He scored the equaliser in the 50th minute after Jonathan Amon had put the home team ahead in the 19th minute of play and scored the winner with a powerful header in the 61st minutes of the encounter to put the game beyond their hosts.
Onuachu has now scored 16 goals in 28 league appearances for FC Midtjylland this season and he’s surely making a claim to a position in Nigeria’s team to 2019 AFCON in Egypt.
FC Midtjylland of Denmark striker debuted for the Super Eagles, against Seychelles after coming in for Oghenekaro Etebo in the 62nd minute. He stated afterwards that he would always give his very best anytime he was called upon to play for Nigeria.
Onuachu was calm even after getting a strong tip from Eagles’ coach that he would start the game at Stephen Keshi Stadium, Asaba, as the towering youngster said he had learnt how to cope with pressure.
Rather than feel that he has already arrived, especially after getting lofty comments from Rohr, Onuachu is keeping his head down and aims to speak with his boots. He then went on to score the only goal in Nigeria’s lone goal victory in an international friendly game.
In spite of missing two months of last season to injury, Paul Onuachu was still able to manage 18 league goals. He indeed attributed his none invitation to the Super Eagles before now to his injury.
“I was supposed to be in the Nigerian squad for the last set of friendly games against Poland and Serbia but I was injured by the time the team list was to be released. I’m back now and hoping to get a look in soon.
“My aim is to get back to scoring goals like I was doing before I got injured and hopefully I will make it hard for Coach Gernot Rohr to ignore me. He is aware of me and that is a motivation I need to build on,” Onuachu had said.
So far, Onuachu has been able to walk the talk as he has been in fantastic form this season for FC Midtjylland in the Danish League, scoring 18 goals and also contributing three assists, which has really made it difficult for Rohr to ignore him.
The 24-year-old, who hails from Owerri was also eligible to play for Denmark as he has lived continuously for at least five years after reaching the age of 18 in the country, but said representing the Danish national team was never an option for him, and he is “super proud” to have been named in Nigeria’s latest squad.
“I am super proud to be selected for the Nigerian national team. It’s something I’ve been dreaming for a long time, and it’s just a good feeling to have achieved such a great goal in my career.
“It has been a goal for me for a very long time, but you just have to be patient. I do what I can on the football field, and now I’m just glad it has succeeded. I was called by the Nigeria coach and he told me he wanted to try me out for a while, and now he has found room for me on the team,” said Onuachu.
Speaking to cafonline.com about his player selection, the Franco-German stated that Onuachu was in form and was too strong to be overlooked.
“He has the experience of Europe at the height of his 24 years. His size is obviously his strength and the beautiful goals scored in the Danish championship. This is another profile for us in the attack,” Rohr said.
Last year, Onuachu alongside Manchester City’s Riyad Mahrez were the only Africans to join top stars from around the world in the FIFA 19 Ultimate Team of the Week. Onuachu said his first call up to the Nigerian senior national team was a dream come true. The FC Midtjylland striker has lived in Denmark since 2012, and for most of his time in Denmark, he has been a diligent goal scorer.
However, he had to wait to get a shot at the Nigeria senior national team, after he had earlier been called up to the Nigerian under-23 national team in February 2015. He was called up for Nigeria’s Super Eagles game against Seychelles and Egypt.
FC Midtjylland’s head coach, Kenneth Andersen, believes that the selection is well-deserved. “He has played well for a long time, and it is deserved that he gets the chance… Now I’m not exactly an expert on the Nigerian national team, but from my point of view it has been underway for a while.”
Onuachu said he received the happy message over the phone. “I was called by the Nigerian coach (Gernot Rohr), and he told me he wanted to try me out for a while, and now he could find room for me on the team,” he said.