Talented striker Ikechukwu Uche has said he’s not upset with Nigerian soccer coach Stephen Keshi for leaving him out of the provisional 30-member World Cup squad.
Known for his acrobatic goal celebrations, Uche was omitted despite scoring 12 goals for Villarreal in the Spanish league this season.
“Of course as a professional soccer player, you would love to represent your country, but I have never had bad words towards the national coach,” said the 30-year-old. “We spoke two weeks before the squad was announced to clarify certain things that had been written and said in the media. Most importantly, it was a very good discussion. It gives me great pleasure that there is no ill will towards anyone. I thank the coach for that. I also wish my teammates all the best in Brazil because we are all one family whether you are in the squad or not.”
Uche has not played for Nigeria since they won the Africa Cup of Nations in South Africa last year.
Keshi, who has managed the Nigerian team since 2011, has been criticized for leaving Uche off the squad, but the player insists the focus should be on the team preparing for the World Cup.
“We should all rally around the team and support them in Brazil,” said Uche. “The coach cannot select everyone available to represent Nigeria. I thank the fans and those passionately concerned about my omission. For me, those picked and those left out are also aware that the country’s success is more important than personal glory. I will be supporting my country and I wish the team all the best.”
In 44 appearances for Nigeria since 2007, Uche scored 18 goals.
Meanwhile, South Africa has expressed an interest in hosting the 2019 Women’s World Cup.
They are not alone since England, France, Korea Republic and New Zealand have also declared an interest. Those four countries could be ahead in the bidding because South Africa is set to host the Under-20 Women’s World Cup in 2016.
The International Soccer Federation (FIFA) would prefer the 2018 Under-20 Women’s World Cup and the 2019 Women’s World Cup to be hosted in the same country.
The sport’s governing body said it has submitted the bidding documents which the relevant member associations have to sign and return before the FIFA executive committee assigns the 2019 tournament.
In addition, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Finland, Egypt, Sweden and Northern Ireland have declared their interest in hosting the Under-17 Women’s World Cup in 2018.
The deadline for submitting the hosting agreement along with the signed bidding documents is October 31, 2014.