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2017 AFCON: No Room For Excuses, Says Onazi

Oladipo Okubanjo

Still smarting from failure to help Nigeria qualify for the last African Cup of Nations (Afcon) tournament in Equatorial Guinea, Ogenyi Onazi has sounded a warning note to his Super Eagles teammates.

The Lazio midfielder says there would be no room for mistakes with the Super Eagles poised to embark on another campaign for a ticket to the 2017 edition in Gabon.

Nestled in what was considered a relatively weak group, Nigeria, it will be recalled, failed to secure a berth at the 2015 Afcon losing to less fancied Sudan and Congo in the process.

Early next month, the 2013 champions will launch their quest for a ticket to Gabon when they host Chad in a Group G game in Katsina, and Onazi sees the qualifying campaign that also includes games against Egypt and Tanzania as another chance to restore the pride and glory of the Super Eagles.

“This is another opportunity for us to bring back our glorious days and restore our pride as a team and nation,” Onazi told AfricanFootball. com “Now is another great chance for us to show the world what we can do.

There won’t be any room for excuses; we need to win all games right from the Chad game, by the grace of God,” said Onazi, who is one of the 15 foreign-based professionals invited for the Chad game by coach Stephen Keshi. “We had the chance before but we didn’t make good use of it then.

“I am therefore calling on the fans and other football stakeholders in Nigeria because countries like Italy do encourage their players.”

In a related development, Watford striker Odion Ighalo has spoken of his delight at getting another opportunity to impress in the colours of Nigeria, after his invitation to the Super Eagles ahead of the game against Chad. Apparently, Ighalo’s invitation by Keshi is a reward for the striker’s exploits with Watford in the just ended season.

The 25-year-old scored 20 goals to help the English Championship club gain promotion to the Premier League. The former junior international, who made his Super Eagles debut in a friendly against Uganda in March 2015, is delighted to have been handed another call to the team.

“I will say that I am very happy getting another call-up to the Super Eagles,” he said. “I believe every footballer dreams of playing for his national team and it is no different with me, so I’m happy to be called again.

“I have to work hard to give my best under the Big Boss. I know he’s a good coach and I will work hard to understand what he wants from his players.”

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