Former Julius Berger forward Momodu Mutairu believes that Ogenyi Onazi has the leadership qualities to drive the Super Eagles.
The former Japan-based player, who played for Nigeria in the 1995 King Fahd Cup in Saudi Arabia, said the Lazio midfielder could develop to become an important midfielder for the Eagles in the future.
Mutairu, who spoke with our correspondent on the telephone, said, “In all the departments of the team, the midfield is the luckiest to me, as I believe that Onazi is one player for the future. He has the qualities needed to drive any team to achieve their goals.
“When he was injured and out against France in the second round of the World Cup, the team really felt his absence, so I believe he will do well with other players if the midfield is strengthened.”
The former Dolphins striker added that Stephen Keshi should be given a new contract to remain as Nigeria coach.
“Keshi should be allowed to build the team and take them to the level where the country can be proud of them. He has done a great job so far and can still do more if given all he needs to work with. So I believe a new contract with better working conditions will ensure that.
“If his contract is not renewed and another coach brought in, we will go back to the old story of poor performances in major competitions.”
The former Kawasaki Frontale player added, “The team is not bad in terms of individual players but they should cultivate the habit of playing together as a team.
“At present they lack that team spirit which will help them beat any opponent. The team spirit will help them fight for one another and cover each other’s mistakes on the field of play.”
Meanwhile, Onazi has said that he is recovering well from the leg injury he suffered after a heavy tackle from France midfielder Blaise Matuidi during their Brazil 2014 World Cup second round match.
“I am improving a lot and I am delighted to be making significant progress with my recovery,” Onazi told BBC Sport.
“I have started running and although I’m in a little pain, I am happy with my progress.”
The 2013 Africa Cup of Nations winner however stopped short of announcing a return day, stating that he does not want to rush back into action.
“With this injury, though, you need to be careful by not setting a time scale on a return, so I will wait until I am fully fit before touching the ball again,” he said.