By Olawale Ajimotokan:
Super Eagles coach Lars Lagerback has refused to guarantee Super Eagles’ bit-playing but highly influential captain, Nwankwo Kanu, a place in his World Cup 23. The new Technical Adviser of the team has made this known to Kanu personally, giving him the condition that he must start playing regularly for his troubled English Premier League side, Portsmouth, if he wants to make the trip to South Africa in the summer.
In giving the most decorated Nigeria player that ultimatum, Largerback was said to have also declared that the stance is not going to be unique to the player, but that it is going to be the benchmark of his World Cup South Africa 2010 life with the Nigeria national team as he was not prepared to take players who are not pulling their weight at their clubs to the tournament.
If Kanu makes it to the summer Finals, he will be at par with Mutiu Adepoju and Jay Jay Okocha as the only Nigerians to have attended three World Cup finals in their playing career. Largerback shared his philosophy with the Nigerian captain when the two met before the Swede signed a contract with the Nigeria Football Federation (NFF) about two weeks ago.
Kanu has announced that he would finally bow out of international football after South Africa 2010, making it 17 years of devotion to the cause of the national team. But now his dream could be a Mission: Impossible, as he has only made three league starts for Portsmouth out of the 21 appearances he has made this season.
He has scored just a goal in the competition. Plus two Carling Cup goals against Aston Villa and Stoke City he has also found himself frozen out of the side’s starting lineout in recent times, especially after the arrival of Ivorien Haruna Dindane who is on loan from French club Lens and Frederic Piquionne. Besides this, he has been prone these days to recurring injuries.
He also had his roles in the national team greatly reduced in the last few days of the erewhile coach, Shaibu Amodu, who then was opting for younger and fitter legs. This would eventually lead to the two having a fall-out before the start of the Africa Cup of Nations in Angola.
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