Written by Professor Chuka Onwumechili

I was browsing through some basic statistics of the Super Eagles a
couple of days ago and came across Ogenyi Onazi’s disciplinary record
and it reminded me of Ifeanyi Udeze’s a few years back. At the time,
Udeze was Nigeria’s all time leader in accumulation of yellow cards.
Now, Onazi has taken that mantle, averaging 0.33 cards in 12 games.

Ordinarily, one would not associate Onazi with such a disciplinary
record. He gives 100% effort on the field and is not perceived as a
dirty player. So why the disciplinary record? Perhaps because his
tackles can be jarring at times and his cautions (4 in last 7 games) are
deserving. He is late on tackles and his defensive positioning is not
the best. He reminds me, somewhat, of Mikel Obi in his early days as
defensive midfielder under Jose Mourinho in Chelsea. At that time, Mikel
was learning the rudiments of defensive play, anticipating an
attacker’s moves and playing in the right spaces in order to cleanly
deny an opponent possession or space. Mikel took some time to learn and,
of course, his lack of pace increased his learning curve. Mikel
eventually learned and his disciplinary record for Nigeria is now 0.10
in 50 games. Not eye popping like Onazi’s! Onazi is going through a
similar learning curve as Obi but the Onazi’s curve should be shorter as
he has the pace to compensate for inexperience.

One hope’s Onazi’s current rate of accumulating cautions is not on a
similar trajectory as that of Ifeanyi Udeze who did have the defensive
abilities but chose to play at the margin of the rules and, thus,
accumulated more cautions than was necessary. Udeze’s average is 0.24 (8
in 33 games) and second, historically, only to Onazi’s. I believe that
Onazi is not choosing to play at the margins but is simply and
diligently seeking to learn the responsibilities at his position, as
best as he could. In the future, one expects his average to go down.


1. Ogenyi ONAZI……….0.33 (4/12 games)
2. Ambrose Efe…………..0.20 (5/25)
3. Kenneth Omeruo…….0.18 (2/11)
4. Elderson Echiejile……0.16 (5/31)
5. Fegor Ogude…………..0.14 (2/14)

Culled from www.eaglecity.blogspot.com


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