By Jacob Ajom
Technical adviser to the national team, Lars Lagerback has defended his decision on the final 23 heading for the 2010 World Cup in South Africa, insisting that, he did not want to take unfit players to the Mundial.
Lagerback who announced his squad Monday, a day after the team held Columbia to a 1-1 draw in an improved performance Sunday night said those dropped could not meet up to the camp test.
The Swede explained to officials that Nigeriaâ€™s joint top scorer during the qualifiers, Ikechukwu Uche was dropped because he had not fully recovered from the long lay-off after sustaining an injury in the Spanish La Liga. Ike was out for seven months and played peripheral part in his clubâ€™s campaign last season.
â€œWe all understood the coachâ€™s position that the lad was still rehabilitating and so could not withstand the rigours of the camp,â€ a source told Sports Vanguard.
Also, the absence of Victor Anichebe from the final list came as a surprise. But Lagerback was unequivocal in his submission.â€the coach said the Everton striker had some training problem as he was also discovered to be harbouring an injury and needed more training to confirm his fitness,â€ our source said.
Onyekachi Apam too had injury problem and could not recover well enough to make the squad despite all efforts made in that direction.
Brown Ideye, we were told could not meet up as he arrived camp late after having a running battle with the British High Commission before securing visa to England.
We gathered that the sweat merchant took a lot of factors into consideration before arriving at the final decision.
Others dropped alongside Anichebe and Ike Uche include the two home based players, Terna Suswan and Bassey Akpan, Peter Utaka, Brown Ideye and Onyekachi Apam.