Onazi dropped due to Mikel problem?
While Nigeria may have been wanting to focus on what’s happening on the pitch in the next few weeks, there’s one story that will mean that isn’t quite possible just yet. As it turns out, Ogenyi Onazi has apparently been dropped as The Super Eagles’ assistant captain with just days remaining until the 2018 FIFA World Cup gets underway in Russia. According to reports, this may well be in connection with an incident that occurred with team captain John Obi Mikel. It’s the latest in a long line of setbacks for Nigeria who, over the course of the last few weeks, seem to have capitulated before the tournament has even begun. They lost their game against England in what was an intriguing game at Wembley, before losing once again to Czech Republic just a few days later in their final pre-WC friendly.
Onazi is coming off of a strong season with Trabzonspor over in Turkey, but unfortunately for him, many fans won’t be all too interested in that when they hear about this latest story. One of the biggest side effects of international football is that is can completely dismiss anything you do with your domestic club, and that’s been the case for decades now. While a player may be successful in one aspect of their game that doesn’t necessarily mean that they are in another, and if this Onazi issue continues on throughout the World Cup, he could have serious problems. The idea of a vice-captain of sorts isn’t an unknown one, and it actually makes a lot of sense. Instead of people wondering who will take the reigns in a situation where the captain goes down with an injury, there’s a clear man ready to take the armband.
Of course, in a group with Argentina, Croatia and Iceland, you could argue that this is the least of their worries. The Super Eagles need to be working as a cohesive unit by the time their World Cup campaign kicks off, because as we’ve seen before, it’s easy to allow the momentum to snowball in a tournament of this magnitude if you start off poorly. They’re by no means too far gone and there’s still going to be plenty of optimism back home regarding their chances, but to say that this isn’t the ideal scenario would be an understatement.
Nigeria will kick things off against Croatia this Saturday in Kaliningrad.