Fit-again Super Eagles of Nigeria and on-loan Bursaspor of Turkey midfielder Mikel Ndubuisi Agu returned to action last Saturday in his team’s 1-1 draw against visiting Genclerbirligiin the Turkish Super Lig, playing all 90 minutes.
In this exclusive interview with Completesportsnigeria.com’s KAYODE OGUNDARE, the FC Porto of Portugal player talks about his knee injury ordeal and Nigeria’s prospects at the 2018 FIFA World Cup in Russia. Enjoy excerpts…..
Completesportsnigeria.com: Mikel, glad to see you back in action.
Mikel Agu: Thanks bro. I’m also glad to see myself back in action.
You were out for a lengthy spell. How was it being out injured and not being able to play for your team?
I must confess it wasn’t a good feeling to be out and not playing. As a [professional, you want to justify your wages. As a footballer, you always want to kick the ball around. Not being able to do this can be frustrating.
What exactly did you miss while out injured?
I missed the game. I missed the preparation for games. I missed the matchday adrenaline that comes from walking into a packed stadium and knowing that they have come to watch you play and win. I missed six games for Bursapor but it was like I was out for longer.
You also missed the final World Cup qualifier as well as the friendly against Argentina?
Yea, that’s true. I missed all of those games and it was a very tough time for me. My goal was to play as many games as possible this season and I was on course until that knee injury but I’m all good now and fit as a fiddle. I played 90 minutes against Genclerbirligi and I know I felt very sharp which means I’m fully recovered. So I’m happy to be back and playing again.
You missed the Super Eagles friendly against Argentina but you have seen our World Cup group. What do you think of Nigeria’s chances in that group?
For me, we as players have to be ready to face every team in our group. I don’t wish for another group because I believe no group is easy. Every country that qualified for the World Cup deserved to be there because it meant they were the best of their qualifying group just like we were. So it’s not going to be a tea party at the World Cup.
In your opinion, which of Argentina, Iceland or Croatia do you think could pose the toughest challenge to Nigeria?
Everyone is fixated on Argentina as the toughest in the group but for me all three games willl be difficult. Iceland might not have players with names, but they have a very solid team and teams win games, not individuals. They have players who are ready to die in pitch and that’s where we should be careful.
Croatia are also very good side, with some well known top class players in some of the biggest teams in Europe. There’s (Luka) Modric in Real Madrid, (Ivan) Rakitic in Barcelona and others too so we know they have a very good side too.
We know the threat Argentina will always pose any day with the talent at their disposal. Then you remember they have a very impressive record against us in past World Cup games. If you now add the fact that we defeated them in the last friendly games, then you know that the game against them will be a cracker. All in all, our group is very tough and we’ll be playing three World Cup finals in the group. So, for me, it will be very interesting.
In your opinion, and with benefit of playing in Europe, how best should the Super Eagles prepare in other to have a good showing at the World Cup?
The coach I believe knows the best way to prepare the team, and luckily we have a very sound coach in Gernot Rohr and we should have absolute trust in him to guide us right. However, much will also depend on each player to work very hard at their various clubs, because getting regular playing time will matter a lot and I also pray that we all stay injury free.