Brazil 2014: Ignored Ike Uche scores again

By Pius Ayinor

Nigeria striker Ikechukwu Uche scored his 14th goal in the La Liga on Sunday as his Spanish club defeated Real Sociedad 2-1 away from home. He scored in the 69th minute to increase the lead before the home team cut it down to 2-1. 

The striker, who was ignored by Nigeria coach Stephen Keshi, also scored last week as Villarreal won 4-0 over visiting Rayo Vallencano at the Estadio El Madrigal. In the game against Vallecano, a 22nd minute goal from the Nigerian put the Yellow Submarine ahead before goals from Bruno Soriano, Jonathan Pereira and Jaume Costa sealed victory for them.

The Villarreal goals and win on Sunday were very significant as they confirmed their place in the Europa League for next season. They finished seventh although they tied at 59 points with Sociedad.

Uche now holds the record for the highest scoring Nigerian in Spain having broken Finidi George's haul of 11 goals with Real Betis in the 1990s.

But in spite of his goal haul, the player has been left out of the Brazil 2014 World Cup party and his exclusion has continued to generate mixed reactions from Nigerians particularly former Nigeria internationals. A former Green Eagles defender Yisa Sofoluwe, who spoke with our correspondent on Sunday, said the exclusion of such a key player should not create much cause for worries as the coach of the team understands the level of opposition at the World Cup.

He said, "The coach has watched his players all through the year and believes he could achieve the set target with the squad he has and so we have to let him move on with that decision. I am sure he consulted extensively with his assistants before arriving at the decision to drop Uche and I guess it was taken in best collective interest of the team.

"Personally, I like Uche but I am not the coach and so there's nothing I can do about it. Another coach can equally use the same squad or completely alter it depending on his approach to the game. He may be playing well and scoring well but many other things are put into consideration in selecting a team and so he didn't make Keshi's list, and that's it."

Uche, who missed out on the 2010 World Cup in South Africa on account of an injury he had, has since put the disappointment behind him and wished the Super Eagles the best in Brazil using his Twitter handle.

"I wish my colleagues all the best in Brazil. To the fans, I’d like to thank you for your support. Let’s get behind the Eagles in Brazil," he tweeted.