By Kayode Ogundare:
KRC Genk of Belgium defensive midfielder Ndidi Wilfred has declared his readiness to play any role to help Nigeria qualify for the 2018 World Cup in Russia, reports Completesportsnigeria.com.
The former Flying Eagles midfielder was reacting to criticisms of his performance after he featured as a right full-back in the World Cup qualifying game against the Chipolopolo of Zambia in Ndola last Sunday.
Ndidi, a defensive midfielder for club and country, was surprisingly handed a starting role by Gernot Rohr but asked to play as a right-back.
“The coach told me the night before the game that I was going to play at right full-back and that he was expecting me to give it my best shot," Ndidi told Completesportsnigeria.com.
"It was a bit of a challenge considering that was my first time of playing at right-back but I’m glad I pulled it off. The coach believed in me and I was not going to fail him or fail the country. I told myself I was going to keep it simple and not complicate things for myself. That way I can minimize mistakes and that was what I tried to do.”
The 19-year-old admitted that he found it hard to stop Zambia’s burly striker Collins Mbesuma who scored the hosts’ only goal of the game because of Mbesuma's size and agility.
“Mbesuma was more than a handful because of his size. For someone that big, he was surprisingly fast and full of tricks. He’s a good player notwithstanding his age. I tried to keep him away from having a direct view of our goal and I think I succeeded to the best of my ability,” Ndidi added.
On whether he will be willing to continue playing as a right full-back for Nigeria or he would love to return to his preferred defensive midfield role, he said he was prepared to play anywhere the coach wanted as long as the team wins and secure the World Cup ticket.
He added: “I played before in central defence but I prefer the central midfield now. However, I’m willing to play anywhere or do anything as long as it helps us to win the World Cup ticket and the team is successful. I always want to give my all in every game and I was happy that the coach congratulated me after the game. He also pointed at a few things I could have done differently and I’m happy that the team won at the end of the day.”
With the three points from Zambia in the bag, Ndidi is now focused on the next game against Algerian on November 12 at the Godswill Akpabio International Stadium, Uyo.
“People say Algeria will be tougher than Zambia but it means we will also raise our game when we play them. Every team is big in their own right. I know and believe we can get the victory against Algeria or any other team for that matter.”
Ndidi is expected back in Belgium on Wednesday morning to help his club prepare for the away trip to 12th-placed Mouscronon Saturday. Genk sit in the ninth position in the 16-team Belgian First Division league table.