Al-Adalah FC midfielder Ogenyi Onazi has hit back at critics who voiced their annoyance over his recall to the Super Eagles, four years after he last played for the team, saying they lack football knowledge.
Onazi, who last played for the Eagles against Seychelles in 2018, was named in a seven-man standby list by coach Austin Eguavoen for this month’s crucial Qatar 2022 World Cup play-off against Ghana.
But his inclusion stirred up controversy in the media, with critics claiming the former Trabzonspor midfielder had passed his prime.
But the 2013 Africa Cup of Nations winner, in an exclusive interview with The PUNCH, said it was baffling for people who don’t understand the game to be questioning his recall to the national side.
“I don’t know about what people are saying about my recall to the team,” Onazi told The PUNCH.
“Even if they tell the coach to cancel this list and announce another, there will still be complaints about it.
“These critics are saying this for personal reasons and opinion.
“I really don’t understand why people who don’t understand football will question a professional about his job.
“If you are not playing well, you will not get an invitation to the national team and that’s the truth and if the coach invites you and you don’t play well, then critics can talk.”
Meanwhile, Eagles coach Austin Eguavoen stoked the fire of controversy over Onazi’s return, when he reportedly stated that he invited the Saudi Arabia-based midfielder “to pacify everybody.”
Eguavoen said Onazi, who now plays in the second division of Saudi Arabia, wasn’t initially in his list.
“Onazi, good player. Whether he’s still good and can play at that level, we don’t know. But that’s why I said to pacify everybody, to ensure there’s harmony here, put him on the standby. While he’s on the standby, I have the final say,” Eguavoen said.