By Kayode Ogundare:
Photo by Ganiyu Yusuf:
Racing Genk of Belgium defensive midfielder Wilfred Ndidi has expressed satisfaction after making his Super Eagles home debut in Saturday's 2017 AFCON qualifiers against the Taifa Stars of Tanzania at the Godswill Akpabio Stadium, Completesportsnigeria.com reports.
The former Flying Eagles defender turned midfield linchpin was a second half substitute for captain Mikel Obi and he was full of praises for the Chelsea star.
"I feel really elated to finally have the opportunity to play for Nigeria at the senior level on home soil," Ndidi told Completesportsnigeria.com.
"It's an honour not every player will get, no matter how skillful you are. Coming on for Mikel made my debut extra special because he's a player I've the utmost respect for and I've always looked up to him. Even before I got into the team I always wanted to play like him.
"All through training and preparation for the game, I was always in awe when I think about the fact that I'm playing in the same team with Mikel. He's a good person and a good leader too."
Despite making his national team bow in front of a capacity crowd at the 37,000-capacity stadium, Ndidi claims he didn't suffer any stage fright.
He said: "I didn't feel any anxiety because I took it as just another game. I felt normal because the coach told me to go in and keep the balance in the middle and I also played alongside another defensive midfielder so it made my job easier."
Ndidi, who first represented Nigeria at U-17 level, said he had an inkling he could be called to action when the manager told him to warm up some few minutes to the end of the first half.
He started out in central defence but his game has undergone a gradual metamorphosis and he now plays in defensive midfield for club and country.
"I still can play in central defence but I'm more comfortable in midfield because you're more involved in the game when you play in the middle," he told Complete Sports.Unblock the FIFA World Cup with ExpressVPN the #1 Trusted Name in VPN