Ikechukwu Uche happy with goalscoring return for Nigeria

By Oluwashina OkelejiBBC Sport, Nigeria
Ikechukwu Uche
Ikechukwu Uche

Ikechukwu Uche described his return to the Nigeria team as "emotional" after helping the defending champions defeat Congo 2-0 on Saturday to revive their 2015 Africa Cup of Nations chances.

Uche, whose last appearance for his country was in the final of the 2013 African Cup of Nations against Burkina Faso, tucked away a penalty in the 59th minute to set the Super Eagles in flight.

On a dramatic day in Pointe Noire, Vincent Enyeama saved a Thievy Bifouma penalty when his side were 1-0 up.

Aaron Samuel struck the vital second goal for Nigeria in the 89th minute.

"It was an emotional return and I thank my team-mates and the coaching crew for the support," Uche told BBC Sport.

"It's great to come back to the squad, reunite with some wonderful people and more importantly win away from home.

"Delighted to score but that's behind us as we must shift our focus to Wednesday in what is a very big game for us."

Nigeria will finish second and snatch a berth in Equatorial Guinea if they beat South Africa when they host them on Wednesday in Uyo, as they have now scored more goals than Congo in their two meetings.

"We've been saying Wednesday is like a Cup final against South Africa and all the players know what is at stake," said Uche.

"The mood is great, we know the expectations of our fans and we must give everything on the pitch to get the win.

"After that important win against Congo we now have our fate in our own hands."

Uche is widely regarded as one of Nigeria's most reliable strikers at international level and is one of his nation's all-time top scorers, with 19 goals in 46 appearances, behind Rashidi Yekini, Segun Odegbami and Yakubu Aiyegbeni.

He was omitted from the country's squad to the 2013 Fifa Confederations Cup and this year's World Cup in Brazil.

But the Villarreal striker remains philosophical and has put the past behind him, insisting he is just happy to wear the white and green colours of Nigeria again.

"To move forward in life you can't focus on the past so you need to stay positive for what lies ahead," he added.

"It's always an honour to play for Nigeria with a huge talent base, so it's like living a childhood dream whenever I get the chance to represent my country.

"I just want to give my best when I get picked. Football is a team sport and I feel honoured to play alongside these talented players and under a coaching crew who also command huge respect in Nigeria."

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