At the start of the qualification for the World Cup 2018 in Russia one year ago, the one player who looked like a passenger in the national team of has to be Shehu Abdullahi.
However the Anothorsis Famagusta man has since cemented the right back spot of the team, one area where he has been neglected in the past as coach Gernot Rohr used Kenneth Omeruo and Wilfred Ndidi in place of him in previous games.
Yesterday Shehu proved his rating as the man for the right back spot of Nigeria, which many thought he would lose following the availability of Hull City right back Ola Aina.
Shehu not only kept his spot, he was voted the Man of the Match as Nigeria progressed to the World Cup with a game to spare after beating Zambia 1-0 in Uyo yesterday.
Owngoalnigeria.com caught up with the former Kano Pillars defender cum midfielder, and he revealed how he rose from obscurity to becoming the first choice right back of the Super Eagles.
OGN – Congratulations on Nigeria’s Qualification for the World Cup.
Shehu – Thank you very much, congratulations to you as well.
OGN – You won the Man of the Match in yesterday’s tension soaked match, how do you feel?
Shehu – I feel very happy about it but I feel more happy about the victory about the world cup ticket and not about the man of the match award. The most important thing yesterday was for us to get the ticket to the World Cup.
OGN – Can you give us your assessment of the Zambian team?
Shehu – I think Zambia are a very good team, if you see them, you will know they are a very young team and they play good football, they came here to fight. We fought back and at the end of the day we won. I think they are a good side.
OGN – How did you snatch the right back position of the Super Eagles despite all the criticism you suffer?
Shehu – You know it’s the national team and of course people have to talk , but as a player you have to know what to do. You have to give your best because it’s your nation. I don’t pay much attention to criticism, because people won’t stop criticising, it’s normal so all I have to do is my best.
OGN – Were you surprised to have won the Man of the Match award.
Shehu – I wasn’t surprised, it’s what a game like the Zambia tie deserve. You have to put in 200% if you want to be at the World Cup. So that’s what I put on my mind and of course when you put that you will definitely achieve a lot.
OGN – You were simply outstanding yesterday, what was the motivation.
Shehu – We are Nigerians, we deserve to be at the World Cup, of course we have to be there. That was what was on the back of my mind, whenever I remember I have to keep pushing and also run some more.