Nigerian footballer on World player of the year shortlist speaks on his career, nomination impact on youngsters
Two Nigerian players Emeka Ogbonna and Abu Azeez are part of a 100-man 2022 World Beach Soccer Player of the year shortlist Sportsration reports.
Emeka Ogbonna whose 11-aside career was halted by injury took time-out to discuss his career and the impact of his 2022 World Beach Soccer player of the year award nomination on the younger generation .
The winner of the 2022 World Beach Soccer player of the year award will be announced at an event on the 6th of November 2022 .
Nigeria’s Super Sand Eagles stars Emeka Ogbonna and Abu Azeez must dust 97 others on the votes by coaches and captains of national teams to win the award.
Ogbonna began his career as an attacking Midfielder and was on the verge of joining European giants AC Milan when he sustained injury that sidelined him for 3-years .
” I can play anywhere upfront and, in the middle, but I don’t fancy playing in the defence. Although, I occasionally come to the back to help my team defend set pieces,” Ogbonna said of his best position via a report on GOAL .
“After my injury nightmare – that kept me out of football for over three years, I was on my way to recovery and the chance to play in the Nigeria beach soccer team beckoned. ”
Emeka Ogbonna switched from the green grass to the sands in 2010 and has gone on to become an established name in the Beach Soccer world.
“I started playing the game in 2010 when I was invited by coach Adamu Ejor of blessed memory, ” he continued .
“I impressed him greatly during a friendly match and that guaranteed my place in the Super Sand Eagles and I never looked back.”
On his inclusion in the list of 100 players for the 2022 World Beach Soccer player of the year shortlist , Ogbonna is certain the recognition will increase his hunger for success and also encourage the younger generation of Beach Soccer players.
“This nomination is a push for me to do more and also an encouragement to all young players hoping to walk on the grounds that I walked in beach soccer,” the 2019 Africa Beach Soccer Nations cup MVP said .
Ogbonna and Super Sand Eagles skipper Abu Azeez are part of twelve Africans on the 100-man shortlist and according to Ogbonna , Abu is not a rival but an inspiration , who is always pushing him to win all the time.
Other African players on the list are Ahmed Elshahat (Egypt), Al Seyni Ndiaye (Senegal), Antonio Jose Namape (Mozambique), and Emmanuel Wasswa (Uganda).
The list includes, Mammadou Sylla (Senegal), Mohamed El-Sayed (Egypt), Nelson Joao Manuel (Mozambique), Ninou Diatta (Senegal), Rabi Abdoutalbi (Morocco), and Raoul Mendy (Senegal).
The 100-man shortlist will be cut to three before the award ceremony . No African player has ever made the final three shortlist since the inaugural award in 2014 .
Japanese star Ozu Moreira is the reigning World Beach Soccer player of the year award winner .
Moreira topped Switzerland’s Phillip Borer and Portugal’s Leo Martins to the award in 2021.