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IK Uche not under pressure as Eagles depart

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Nigeria and Villarreal striker Ikechukwu Uche has said that he is not under pressure to score goals for the Super Eagles on his return to the team after more than a year absence.

The striker who scored 14 goals in the Spanish La Liga last season told Africanfootball.com on Wednesday that he truly was not under any pressure to deliver in Saturday’s all-important qualifier against Congo in Pointe-Noire.

He said, “I am not under any pressure to deliver, but the team spirit is high and as a team we would together do our best to qualify our country. We have a very important game ahead of us and I am here to help my country qualify.”

He then described his renewed relationship with coach Stephen Keshi as “Good. I am happy to be back. It’s always an honour to play for my country and I am ready to give my best.”

The Spain-based player fell out with Keshi after the 2013 Africa Nations Cup but when the coach was reinstated to his post earlier this month, he recalled the striker. He enjoyed his first training with the team on Wednesday.

The Nigeria Football Federation on Wednesday confirmed that the team would leave the country for Congo today (Thursday). The team will train in the morning and then travel out at night.

NFF Vice President, Mr. Seyi Akinwunmi spoke with the players at their training ground on Wednesday and declared the federation’s belief that the team would qualify despite the high hurdles ahead of them.

He said, “We have absolute belief in this team and the technical crew and we are certain that we will not only win away from home in Congo, but come back to Uyo and pick the Nations Cup ticket. It’s difficult for a few people like you players to carry the weight of 170 million Nigerians but I urge you to please carry it and make Nigerians proud again, because we want to defend our title early next year.”

Eagles need to beat Congo on Saturday and also beat South Africa four days later to stand any chance of qualifying for the 2015 event that the Confederation of African Football is expected to announce the new host on Friday. Congo shocked Nigeria 3-2 in Calabar when they visited for their first match in the qualifying series. Eagles need a clear two goals difference to overtake the Red Devils in the table. The Congolese are second behind the South Africans with Nigeria as third in the group.

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