Sunday Oliseh was an outstanding defensive midfielder who played for Nigeria in two FIFA World Cups and can count the likes of Juventus, Ajax Amsterdam and Borussia Dortmund among his former clubs. We sat down with him to find out how it feels to play at a World Cup and get his views on a range of other topics, including the role of the modern defensive midfielder, the importance of data for analysts and coaches, and what we should expect from the five African sides in action in Qatar.
Five talking points
Playing at two World Cups
Oliseh explains that the pressure players face in the run-up to the World Cup depends on their individual circumstances. While players going into their first tournament may be looking to show they are capable of playing at the highest level of international football, more established internationals will be aiming to lead their country to the latter stages.
The role of the defensive midfielder
Oliseh started his career as a number 10, and was naturally creative. In that respect, football as a whole has moved towards his playing style, as today's defensive midfielders are expected to attack as well as defend. One thing has remained constant, though: you can't win a major tournament without a solid defensive midfielder.
Memories of 2014, and what to look out for in 2022
In 2014, it quickly became clear that Germany were the team to beat – they dominated all their matches. However, analysing football is a much more complicated task now than it was even eight years ago, and that's where FIFA's new technical analysis tools can play a key role.
The importance of data
Oliseh stresses that analysts and coaches need to use all the data available to them, because talent without a gameplan is not enough to win tournaments. The team that wins the 2022 World Cup will have to score highly across all the key FIFA Enhanced Football Intelligence (EFI) metrics.
What to expect from Africa's representatives
This is a landmark tournament for African football because all five African qualifiers are coached by Africans. Senegal and Morocco look particularly strong, and it will be interesting to see whether Morocco can produce their unique combination of European, African and Middle Eastern playing styles when it really counts.