Midfielder John Ogu Ugochukwu says he is hungry and ever ready for action at the 2018 FIFA World Cup Russia. The midfielder is yet to kick a ball at the tournament after Nigeria’s opening two matches.
The Israel-based midfielder star spoke with www.aclsports.com at the Super Eagles’ Corinthia Hotel base in St Petersburg on Monday night ahead of Tuesday’s all-important final group game against former World Cup winners, Argentina.
The team had barely arrived from their Essentuki base into the hotel when Ogu spoke on the team and other issues.
“We are ready (for Argentina) We had two training sessions already after the game against Iceland and everyone is in good spirit and looking forward to this game against Argentina,” a confident Ogu said to www.aclsports.com
The team’s performance got a significant uplift in the second half against Iceland after a rather reserved first half outing against the Europeans. Ogu credits the coach, Gernot Rohr for their improved display.
“I think we have a manager who is very tough, a manager who wants to win and always wants the best from the players.
“At half time, he told us things that we players think could really help us. They were very physical, they were strong and didn’t do badly in the first half but we were able to come back stronger in the second half,” added the Hapoel Beer’sheva star.
On the World Cup
Ogu was a surprise omission to Nigeria’s squad to the 2014 FIFA World Cup Brazil but gradually returned to the current team’s set up under the Franco-German, Rohr. He continues to revel in his dream of appearing at the World Cup.
“Coming to the World Cup is a dream come true for me. I missed out on the last World Cup but today I’m here and hopefully I get the minutes to play but I’m so excited to be here representing my country at the World Cup.
“It’s a big achievement for me because I just want to help my country and put smiles on the faces of the fans.”
He is however not content with just coming to Russia to make up the numbers. He hopes to be involved on the pitch.
“Anyone who knows me knows that I’m a player who gives my all whenever I’m on the pitch. I play for the fans, I play for the manager before playing for myself.
“I want more. I’m a fighter, I always want to win, I always want to play. If I don’t get to play because the manager knows what’s good for the team, then I’ll keep working,” added the 30-year old.
Praise and Abuse
Ogu and his teammates were subject of social media abuse from Nigerian fans after the loss to Croatia in Kaliningrad in their first group game. The lively footballer spoke on how these get to the players and hopes they will enjoy more of the praises with a good outing against Argentina.
“To be honest, when we see what people say about us after a loss, it feels really bad because we feel like we didn’t come into the pitch to lose games,” said a visibly touched Ogu.
“We understand, because fans are fans, they always want to win, like us, and are very demanding and you know I feel like Nigerian fans will appreciate you if you give everything you have and you lose but if you don’t give your all and you lose, they’ll be angry. I feel that’s what happened after the Croatia game.
“We as players have this in mind and we always want to win. We want to win for ourselves and for the fans too, you know it’s a thing of joy to see that after the game against Iceland, everyone was praising the players.”
“For us, we want to do the job against Argentina, this is the kind of game me personally cherishes and I think it’s same for every player here so I’m looking forward to this game.”
Ogu and his Super Eagles teammates will have their final training session before Tuesday’s game at the Saint Petersburg Stadium, St Petersburg on Monday evening.