Nigeria coach, Stephen Keshi, on Tuesday made it clear that Villareal striker Ikechukwu Uche would no longer play a part in the national team.
The Spain-based forward has been excluded from the Super Eagles by Keshi after a poor outing at the 2013 Africa Cup of Nations in South Africa, where Nigeria emerged champions.
Keshi had repeatedly said that Uche “lacks tactical discipline and doesn’t know how to play football.”
And on Tuesday, he put paid to hopes of the player making his team to the World Cup despite a brilliant season for the Yellow Submarines in the La Liga.
Keshi dispelled rumours that he excluded Uche from his squad because the player refused to make him his manager.
“Ike Uche was with me at the Nations Cup. I had said I won’t speak about him anymore. People would make a lot of comments, people would say a lot of things but I don’t need him, period. The most important thing for me is the Super Eagles and if you are against the Super Eagles, you are against Stephen Keshi and I will fight you,” Keshi said at a TomTom Roundtable session with journalists in Lagos.
“He is my player and I have no personal grudge against him. He is a good player but not all good players play in the national team if you are not a team player. If you are not a team player, you are not going to be with me. You can with other coaches but with me, no way because the game is about team work. There’s no money that can buy me.”
Keshi, the second African to win the AFCON as a player and coach, added that no player could use money to influence his decisions as a coach.
He added, “Before any of the players started playing, I had money. I still have money. I’ve been in the game before they came. I don’t think any of them can give me enough money that can satisfy my hunger.
“Probably he (Uche) has been doing it in the past with other coaches but there is one coach, Stephen Okechukwu Keshi (CON) that he cannot bribe.
“I’ve seen a lot of people asking me to include their players in the team. I didn’t come to Nigeria for money. If I wanted a lot of money, I would be with Equatorial Guinea where I was offered four times what Nigeria is paying me.”
Our correspondent learnt that an off the pitch incident at the 2013 AFCON led to a soured relationship between the coach and the player.
Officials of the Nigeria Football Federation were alleged to have used Uche against Keshi during the group stage of the competition, in their reported failed bid to sack the coach.
“Because the NFF wanted to bring in a new coach after the Eagles poor start at the AFCON, they needed players, who would voice their discontentment with Keshi’s tactics and Uche was one of them,” a member of the Eagles technical crew revealed.