Joel Obi vows to win Nige­ria W’cup place

The Punch - - SPORTS -

JOEL Obi has set his sights on be­ing at the World Cup this sum­mer with Nige­ria.

The 26-year-old was omit­ted from the last tour­na­ment in Brazil, but took a step closer to re­al­is­ing that am­bi­tion last month by play­ing in the Su­per Ea­gles’ two friendlies.

Obi, cur­rently on an in­jury-free run with Ital­ian side Torino, has scored six goals in 24 ap­pear­ances this sea­son and is keen to con­tinue that con­sis­tency run for his coun­try.

“This big tour­na­ment is the ul­ti­mate am­bi­tion of ev­ery pro­fes­sional foot­baller and I hope to work harder to ful­fil that dream,” Obi, who made his Nige­ria re­turn last month af­ter a four-year ab­sence, told BBC Sport.

“I was heart­bro­ken for miss­ing the World Cup in Brazil, but I now have an­other big op­por­tu­nity four years later.

“Coach (Ger­not) Rohr has made it clear that ev­ery­one must earn their place in the team.

“That’s equally en­cour­ag­ing and chal­leng­ing, so I’m look­ing for­ward to the com­pe­ti­tion for a spot.”

Re­garded as one of Nige­ria’s finest cre­ative mid­field­ers, Obi started his ca­reer at Ital­ian gi­ants In­ter Mi­lan – where he rose from the youth set-up to the first team in 2010.

he re­jected a chance to rep­re­sent Italy at youth level be­fore mak­ing his de­but for Nige­ria against Sierra Leone in Fe­bru­ary 2011.

Fre­quent in­jury spells in Italy re­stricted him to 15 ap­pear­ances for the three­time African champions in eight years, but the 2011 Ital­ian Cup win­ner is de­lighted to put his dark days be­hind him.

“I’ve had a pe­riod when in­jury robbed me of play­ing for my coun­try but with Rus­sia in mind, it would just be un­be­liev­able to fi­nally be play­ing at a ma­jor tour­na­ment for Nige­ria,” he said.

The mid­fielder feels he has been given a great op­por­tu­nity to get into the Nige­ria team af­ter choos­ing them over Italy.

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