Former Nigeria International and now Premier League match day commentator, Efan Ekoku would like to see Villarreal striker Ikechukwu Uche as part of the Nigerian world cup squad in Brazil.
Ekoku told supersport.com that “Whoever Stephen takes to the world cup must be ready to play at any point in time. No two ways about it. No one should be going to the world cup for the experience.”
“I personally always look out for Nigerian players all over Europe and I have been watching Uche. He should be there. Has to be” The former Norwich and Wimbledon player said emphatically.
Ekoku is aware Uche apparently had issues with Keshi at the Afcon 2013 in South Africa but he explains that:
“I don’t know Uche personally, never had any conversations with him, but looking at him from the stats standpoint, and his style of play, he has to be dead cert for the squad at the very least.”
“However, I understand that a manager or coach like Stephen, has to look at more than what I am doing that is why he is the successful manager he is.”
It is widely acknowledged that Stephen Keshi places a lot of premium on team spirit in his choice of players and for the squad cohesive nature. Ekoku though thinks a little differently.
“Team spirit on its own cannot win you matches if the players are not good enough. I know that from experience on the pitch and sat on the bench, my feeling is pick the best players in form for the squad, try your very best to manage them as individuals to get the best result.”
Having been an unused substitute throughout US ’94 which he admits really hurt and “made me very angry” Ekoku believes “there is nothing wrong with players during tournaments that do not get games feeling frustrated or even angry. As long as their anger or frustrations do not get poisonous and ruining the team’s play or morale.”
Many Nigerians had not heard of Efan Ekoku when made the Tunisia ’94 squad. He has great respect for the way Westerhof found him.
“We were in Holland for a UEFA Cup game (with Norwich) and he came to me and said to me he would like me to come join his team”
Nigeria was on the verge of World Cup qualification at the time “he said to me that the team will make US and he will then get me involved after and through into the competition. I said ‘ok’ and then he
returned to Nigeria and called me a few more times.” The rest is history.