Villarreal and Super Eagles out of favour striker Ikechukwu Uche in this chat with our editor, DESMOND EKWUEME reveals why he wants to be in Brazil for the FIFA World Cup…Excerpts.
Iyke, you have suddenly hit great vein of form recently what is the secret?
Please keep thanking God for me. It is not me but God. Some things happen that you cannot just explain, my recent form is one of such
And the goals are pouring in torrent, how are you doing it?
God has decided to reward my hard work. That is just the way I see it. I just pray it continues like this till the end of the season.
But where were these goals during AFCON 2013?
Please ask me o! I cannot explain either.
Was there anything you didn’t do right at AFCON?
I don’t want to remember that tournament again when my performance comes up for review but I just thank God that I was part of history. I am glad that I was a member of the set that won Nigeria’s third AFCON trophy.
Now the World Cup is approaching and you are out of favour, do you think you stand any chance now that you have started scoring again?
It depends on the coach. I am only doing my thing at club level. I am concentrating on my club form because that is where I get paid. If the World Cup invitation comes, praise be to God and if not I will keep doing what I am doing for my club. It is not a matter of life and death.
But this could be your last chance to play at the World Cup considering your age?
Honestly that is what scares me. I really want to be at the World Cup. Last tournament in South Africa 2010 I missed it due to injury. It was really painful especially when I consider the fact that I was the team’s leading scorer as at then. The thought of not appearing in the World Cup could lead to desperation but I hope it does not get to that. I believe in God and I trust Him that He will always make a way. Aside the fear or anxiety not appearing at the World Cup, I still feel that I owe the national team an obligation of doing something special. How I will do it I don’t really know but something tells me that I will do it.
What is it that you want to do?
May be scoring a goal that will win something great for the country, I don’t really know.
How do you feel being left out of the team for some time now?
No player at my level will love such situation but there is nothing anyone can do about it.
Do still feel you have a chance in the team?
I am playing regularly for my club and God has been faithful, may be all I need is for the coach to look my way.
Are you expecting that?
Of course that is a major reason why we all play out our hearts for our respective clubs.
What do you think of Iran, Bosnia and Argentina?
We all know Argentina and we have a mindset of how to approach them perhaps because we know their players but the same cannot be said about Iran and Bosnia. I think both (Iran and Bosnia) will be tougher than Argentina.
Will Eagles qualify from the group?
We have a big chance just like Argentina who are favorites to top the group. It is open to all teams but whoever toys with us does that at their peril.
Eagles will be going to Brazil with 90 percent greenhorns when it comes to the World Cup, won’t this affect the team?
I don’t think so. We went to South Africa for AFCON with about 16 players who have not played the tournament before yet we won it. And in fact the new players stole the show. That is the strength of this team. There are players with big hearts and the coach must take credit for this. Everyone wants to prove a point and on one cares if you are a super regular for your club in Europe. The beauty of this team is that the boys in the domestic League back home and hungrier and ready to grab shirts.
Some of your teammates like Obafemi Martins has given up hope to be in Brazil, how do you react to this?
Well we are individuals with different attitude. Whoever gives up playing at the World Cup must have genuine reason beyond not being invited.
With the likes of Osaze, Yobo and Martins, Taiwo and your brother Kalu out, is not a sign that the new generation of players have taken over?
Everything in life has its time and season. Nothing in life is permanent. No player will be in the national team forever. There is something you did not take recognition of. These players you mentioned are still first players for their respective clubs and some of them recently changed clubs which shows that they are still relevant. But like I said earlier only the coach can determine the set of players he wants for any tournament or competition. Don’t write any player off yet except you have the crystal ball to see the mind of the coach.
Will you see it as a disservice if you are not invited for Brazil 2014 World Cup?
I want to be in Brazil. I cannot hide that fact but if God plans otherwise I cannot query Him after all I was the first choice striker for the team before South Africa 2010 but when injury stopped me from featuring the tournament it ended there.
You have been in Spain for over a decade, do you wish to retire there?
In football as well as movement of players anything can happen. Yes I am very happy here in Spain but you never can tell. If a better deal comes from outside Spain, I may be lured to move. But for now I am happy here and I won’t mind retiring here.
What makes Spain special to you?
It is home away from home.
Your elder sibling Kalu has moved on, do you miss him?
He is a man as well as I am. He is seeking better life just I am doing too. Yeah you would want to see yourselves as siblings but the job we both do makes it difficult. But we do talk regularly on phone.
How influential has he been to your career?
He is my big brother and I am proud that he is doing well for himself. The mere fact that he plays football just me makes him a sort of hero before me. I am glad to have him as a brother.
Your final words to your fans
They should keep praying for me and I promise that by the grace of God I won’t disappoint them.