Nkosinathi Onyedikachi Ononogbu: Bafana Bafana is my first choice, but I would consider playing for Nigeria


Nowadays, with dual citizenships, it’s getting more and more common that players have the option to play for a national team of their choice as we’ve seen in Europe, where players like Tammy Abraham and Ansu Fati opted to play for England and Spain respectively. What’s happening abroad has indivertible happened in Africa with the latest player being Cyril Chibwe who snubbed Bafana Bafana and chose Zambia. Red hot striker Onyedikachi Ononogbu, who has a Nigerian father and a South African mother, has cleared the air on who he wishes to play for when the opportunity comes. Ononogbu also shares his experience on how players treat him on the field of play.
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Banele Pikwa: Nkosinathi, you’re a product of Stars of Africa, an academy that has produced so much players. How was it like being part of such a well-established academy?

Nkosinathi Onyedikachi Ononogbu: I wasn’t there for a long time, my stay at Stars of Africa was very short. I think I only lasted about six to seven months if I’m not mistaken. But it was a very good experience being coached by coach Farouk Khan and his son. Yes, I was there for short a period but I really learnt a lot from there. From there, I went to Baberwa FC and there’s a lot of competition so being young, I was already competing with those big names, so that really made me strong.

BP: You’ve made your name at Tshakuma and that’s where you’ve really shown what you’re about. That saw you being part of the Bafana Bafana CHAN team.

NO: When I first came to Tshakuma I wasn’t as confident to be honest but the coach really improved me and told me to believe in myself because I always had doubts. But since I’ve been playing with confidence, I’ve had a lot of fun and everything becomes easier the more confident I get.

BP: Have you ever felt like other players are picking on you since you have a Nigerian father?

NO: At Tshakuma, they don’t encourage such behaviour and we are a united team that’s against all form of racism or anything like that. But when I face other teams, they obviously do say racial things and call me a foreigner, but all that is to try and take me out of the game. Players say different things to all of us all in the name of trying to frustrate us so we are used to it and we don’t even take such things seriously because you have to be strong and focused on the field. Some eventually stop when they realise their trick of trying to bring me down is not working. I was raised like that, I leave people to say whatever they like especially when I know why they are saying all those bad things I can’t be worried because of other people’s bad behaviour, but my teammates never do such things which is the most important because I stay with them. To be honest, I get even stronger and motivated if people say things to provoke me.

BP: That’s bad. Have you discussed this with your teammates?

NO: Yes, we always discuss such things to make everyone else aware of the things that happen in the field, especially the negative things that are meant to put one down. So, by us discussing it, we are preparing our mental strength so that nobody overreacts or allows this behaviour to get to them.

BP: Nowadays, players with dual citizenship, get to choose which national team they want to play for and we see it every time in Europe. Have you decided who you will choose between South Africa and Nigeria?

NO: Yes, I want to play for Bafana Bafana, but I’ve also told myself that if it happens that Nigeria come knocking first, then maybe I’d be forced to play for them, but my first choice is South Africa. I’d love to represent Bafana Bafana, but they are both very good teams and I’m aware it won’t be easy to break in, but if the opportunity comes, I’ll definitely take it. Representing a national team is not easy and very few players get that opportunity so I know I still level behind but I will work hard and fight for that opportunity.


BP: When Bafana Bafana played Nigeria at AFCON, who were you supporting?

NO: Haha (laugs) I was obviously supporting Bafana Bafana.

BP: I’m just teasing you, man. Playing regularly in the top-flight gives players a good chance of being called up for national team, so have you ever considered a move to the PSL?

NO: Every person who is involved in the GladAfrica Championship has one thing in mind and that’s making it to the PSL. Every coach, owner and player is fighting for promotion so obviously I do think of it and I hope we get promoted this season, we were very close last season. We are not far from the top and we are playing with confidence so we can finally achieve our dream.

BP: How was the experience of being part of the CHAN team?

NO: It was amazing because I got a chance to see how a national team operates and it made me aware of most of the things we don’t see when we are at home. I understood so many things and why players improve after being part of the national team. The set-up is different from club level and for me, it was mostly an eye-opener on what to expect and also a very good motivation on being part of the team forever.

BP: In the PSL, there is a big refereeing problem that’s going on. Are you also experiencing the same in the lower division?

NO: Yes, it does happen a lot and this is something that’s happening all over the world. Referees make mistakes, that’s why at Tshakuma, we are told to play the game and leave the referee alone. When you’re focussed on the game you even miss some of the mistakes unlike when you’re arguing with them, you end up losing focus on the game plan. Referees will always make mistakes, just like how we players always make mistakes.

BP: Is there a particular team in the PSL you dream of joining?

NO: Yes, as a player we all have different dreams and if it doesn’t happen, it’s okay. Dreaming is normal. Teams like SuperSport United give young players a chance and players develop quickly there so as a young player I’d love to be part of that and improve quickly that’s why I like them. They are a very professional team that wins trophies yet still give youngsters a chance so I really admire what they are doing.

BP: Thanks for your time, Nkosinathi. Good luck with everything, I hope to see you at Bafana Bafana and SuperSport United one day.

NO: Haha (laughs) thanks a lot bra no problem.

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