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AFCON postponement good for Super Eagles, says Onyekuru

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Super Eagles striker, Henry Onyekuru, believes the postponement of the 2021 African Cup of Nations to 2022 will give the Super Eagles enough time to build a formidable squad for a successful campaign at both the qualifiers and the championship.

The 2021 African Cup of Nations billed to hold in Cameroun was shifted to 2022 due to the outbreak of the coronavirus disease.

Speaking at the weekend, the AS Monaco forward said Nigeria still has much to prove in Africa after failing to qualify for the finals of the Egypt 2019 edition. He said they are determined to show that their bronze medal win in the last edition did not reflect the true quality in the team.

Onyekuru, who said he would keep working hard to earn a first-team shirt in the team, acknowledged the contributions of such retired stars as Austin Okocha, Kanu Nwankwo and Daniel Amokachi, among others, to the team’s image, adding that the 1994 Super Eagles players were his idols when he was growing up in Surulere, Lagos.

“The shift has presented the Super Eagles enough time to get back to shape, as injured players will have time to get back to full training. I also believe the psychological effect of COVID-19 on players and officials would be over in 2022.”

On the semifinal loss to Algeria at the Egypt 2019 AFCON, Onyekuru said failure to play in the final of the competition was a big blow to the team, adding that the players are eagerly waiting for an opportunity to put things right.

“I tried to block Riyad Mahrez’s free-kick that sent us out of the competition, but I did not succeed in doing that. When I see the picture of me lying down to block the ball, it makes me reflect on the game. But I believe the Eagles will continue to fight hard to remain as one of the biggest teams in Africa,” he said.

On his professional career, Onyekuru said his lifelong ambition is to play for Arsenal of England, adding, however, “my focus now is to give my best to my current club AS Monaco.”

He also urged Nigerians to continue to observe safety measures and guidelines on COVID-19 put out by the Federal and state governments, adding that the death toll has shown that one cannot be too careful.

Onyekuru is currently on a five-year deal with AS Monaco of France following his transfer from Everton FC of England.


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