The football season may be drawing to a close, but for Nnamdi Ofoborh, a World Cup journey with Nigeria is about to start with the midfielder set for the FIFA U-20 World Cup in Poland.
Ofoborh, who has trained with the first team this season and captained the under-21s to a Central League Cup win, follows in the footsteps of Lewis Cook and Dominic Solanke, two Cherries who lifted the trophy with England in the last iteration of the competition two years ago.
Speaking with afcb.co.uk, London-born Ofoborh spoke about his preparations for the tournament, his hopes out in Poland and on picking up wisdom from the squad’s World Cup winners.
‘BUZZING’ FOR THE OPPORTUNITY
We play at lot of games with Bournemouth but they don’t have the stature of the World Cup and the competition is probably the biggest stage you can get in football. I’m buzzing, I'm just really happy to have this opportunity and hopefully I can do my best in front of the whole world.
I spoke to Lewis Cook about it before the end of the season. I asked him what it was about, how it feels to play in it and just in general about the team he was in that won it.
Knowing about that and watching him and the way he led the team was enough for me, I didn’t need that much more information from him or Dom (Solanke) because they’re great players, I’ve seen what they’ve done and hopefully I can take that to my team and help them. I’m buzzing for the opportunity.
PREPARING FOR THE TOURNAMENT
I went out to Germany for a couple of days for a training camp before the end of the season and we played a game against a German second division side. As a team we hadn’t won a game in the last few so for me to come in and help the team to our first victory while getting a goal and an assist was good for me.
Going there and setting a standard around the players so they start to respect you gives me a lot more confidence that I can go to the World Cup and show what I can do.
In squad there’s also Tom Dele-Bashiru from Manchester City who plays in midfield with me and he’s really good, strong and technical. There are loads of players all around Europe playing in countries like Sweden, Norway and others based in Nigeria.
It’s a different kind of football but they’re all physical and stronger than we are in England. I need to adapt my game to make sure I can play to the best of my ability but at the same time making sure that I don’t get swallowed by other players who are more grown than me.
Nigeria's World Cup Group Schedule
|Friday 24th May, 5pm||Qatar vs Nigeria||Tychy|
|Monday 27th May, 7:30pm||USA vs Nigeria||Bielsko-Biala|
|Thursday 30th May, 7:30pm||Nigeria vs Ukraine||Bielsko-Biala|
EXPECTATIONS AND AMBITIONS
Through the years at World Cups and in Africa Cup of Nations Nigeria have always done well and in recent years we’ve won an Under-17s World Cup so hopefully we can follow in those footsteps. Our first game is against Qatar so we’ll be looking to start well and kick-off the tournament as we mean to go on.
It’s all a bit new to me, as it is for everyone, I have great support from my mum and dad and my sister and a couple of friends. They’re hoping to come out which will be brilliant and will make it more comfortable for me. I only know a couple of the players in the squad well, so some friendly faces will be good.
I’m used to just playing one game a week so being in that tournament schedule and I hope that I can adapt well to three games in six days because it’s a lot. I am buzzing for it, I just love playing football so I’ll be living the dream.