Hapoel Be’er Sheva of Israel midfielder, John Ugochukwu Ogu has disclosed that he was not under any kind of pressure on Saturday, when he was asked to play in central defence for the Super Eagles against England.
While many Nigerians would be surprised seeing the former Académica de Coimbra of Portugal star line out with Nigeria’s three-man defence line in the second half of the 2-1 loss at Wembley, Ogu said he has actually played that role at a point with his club.
Ogu went on to reveal further that he asked to be allowed a role in defence during training with the Eagles of recent, which he believes accounted for the gaffer, Gernot Rohr’s decision to send him on in same capacity at The Home of Football.
Ogu was among the substitutes who helped Nigeria turn the tide round in the second half of Saturday’s game at Wembley, and the Eagles settled into a near comeback with a goal to show.
Ogu, who is primarily an attacking midfielder, was deployed as part of a back three that also had Kenneth Omeruo and William Troost-Ekong, as the Eagles switched to a 3-5-2 formation in the second half.
Trailing England 0-2 in the first half, switching to a formation similar to how England were lined up helped Nigeria claw their way back into the game but they could not equalize.
“It’s not my first time of playing in central defence. I have played there for my club. I won’t say it’s my preferred position but I can play in various roles on the pitch and it’s one of the position I have played in recent time.
“Playing in central defence has a lot to do with your movements and timing of tackles. Something I have mastered over the years in my role as a defensive midfielder even though I’m not the quickest..
“In training before the England game I played as one of the three at the back and I guess the coach liked how I performed. It’s up to the coach to decide but I am ready to play anywhere for the good of the team,” Ogu disclosed.