By RON FANFAIR
Nigeria’s soccer captain Nwankwo Kanu has called time on his international career after his country failed to make it out of the first round of the just concluded World Cup in South Africa.
Nigeria lost its first two matches against Argentina and Greece before being held to a 2-2 draw by South Korea.
“For me, it’s farewell on the same continent it all started,” said the Portsmouth striker. “It probably didn’t end well for us in this tournament. Nevertheless, I am happy with all I have done for the national team.”
Kanu, who has represented Nigeria 80 times since debuting against Sweden in 1994, said he relished his time playing for his country.
“I have really enjoyed myself and it was emotionally important for me to play in front of my family,” he said. “I’ve won the Under-17 World Cup, the Olympic gold and Nations Cup silver and bronze medals. We haven’t achieved much as a team at this World Cup, but personally I think it’s an achievement that I am proud of. My wife was here to watch me and I played in front of my kids at the biggest tournament in the world. So what else can I ask for?”
The two-time African Soccer Player of the Year moved to Ajax in the Netherlands in 1994 where he won three Dutch League titles, the Champions League, the European Cup and the Intercontinental Cup.
He joined Inter Milan in 1996 and won the European Cup title with the Italians two years later before moving to Arsenal in 1999, where he won two league titles and two Football Association Cups. He scored 44 goals in 198 games for the Gunners.
After a second spell with West Bromwich Albion, Kanu joined Portsmouth in 2006 and he played in two FA Cup finals, scoring the winning goal against Cardiff in 2008.
Meanwhile, Ghana Sports Minister Akua Dansua has said the International Soccer Federation should change its rules after a handball deprived the West Africans of advancing to the World Cup semi-finals.
Uruguay’s Luis Suarez handled the ball on the goal line in the last minute of extra time, but Asamoah Gyan missed the penalty. Ghana was eliminated on penalty shootout.
Dansua did not suggest what changes should be made.
A FIFA spokesman said any proposed changes to the laws would have to go through the International Football Association Board, which meets in Wales in March 2011.
Despite their defeat, Ghana became just the third African team to reach the World Cup quarter-finals.