Why I wouldn't play IK Uche against Congo

Ike Uche
Nigerians will probably kill me for this, but the truth is that IK Uche may not be what the Super Eagles need against Congo on Saturday.

After his ouster from the team, more than one year ago and the public outcry for his recall, it would be best to see if he turns out to be Nigeria’s saving grace in Point Noir, but history has shown that IK may not save Nigeria.

A look at his goal scoring record for the team shows that he hardly delivers away from home.

The Villareal of Spain man has scored 18 times for the Super Eagles and is currently the top scorer for the national team but how many of his 18 goals were scored in Nigeria, and how many did he score away from home.

It just seems Ikechukwu Uche cannot score away from home, at least for the Super Eagles.

In a game as important as this one, reputation, current form and psychology of players must be key factors in picking the eighteen who dress for the game, being it is a must win one.

At the AFCON in South Africa, Ike Uche, though Nigeria’s top scorer in the qualifiers, failed to get a goal and was not impressive in the games he played.

Maybe that was because the AFCON in 2013 was not played in Nigeria.

AFCON 2008

The only other time he played at the AFCON was in Ghana in 2008 and in three games he featured in, he didn’t score a single goal.

Maybe, nobody noticed that he didn’t score in Ghana because the Eagles also had form players like Yakubu Aiyegbeni, Osaze Odemwingie and Obafemi Martins and so we couldn’t have been bothered by Ike Uche’s goals or lack of them, but Uche played three games without a goal.

Ike Uche simply does not know how to score goals away from his comfort zone while wearing the colours of the Nigerian national team.

The fear of the away ground

Uche’s first goal for Nigeria was in 2007 against Lesotho in a 2008 AFCON qualifying match played in Warri, Nigeria. That game ended 2-0 and Uche scored the second goal for Nigeria.

But the amazing statistic here is that, of his 18 goals for Nigeria, only 4 were scored away from home.

His first away goal for Nigeria was in 2008 in Marbella, Spain in a friendly match against Sudan. He scored the first goal in a 2-0 win.

His second away goal came a few months later in 2008 in a 2010 World Cup qualifying match in South Africa. Nigeria won 1-0

Ike Uche did not score another away goal until three years later in June 2011 in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia.

It was a 2012 AFCON qualifier that ended 2-2 and he got Nigeria’s first goal.

It was not until a year later in 2012 that he scored again on the road in Liberia and it was a 2013 AFCON qualifier that ended 2-2 and he scored Nigeria’s second goal


A closer look at Uche’s goals

In a five year goal scoring career between 2007 and 2012, Uche was only able to score four times on the road.

His second goal for Nigeria was an away goal in Spain, but it took him scoring twice at home before getting on the score sheet in South Africa in 2008.

He went on to score 7 goals at home before he managed his third road goal in Ethiopia in 2011.

Ike Uche went on another run of four home goals before he netted in Liberia when the Eagles drew 2-2 in 2012

Could it be psychological? Maybe he is more comfortable at home playing before the home fans? Why is it that he is in amazing form in Abuja, Warri, Calabar and Kaduna but most times cannot find his scoring feet as soon as he is on “enemy territory”Is there any answer to that?

Does the coach of the team, Stephen Keshi know this bit of information? Does the team psychologist, Robinson Okosun know this about Ike Uche?

Does he need help from either of them while on road trips? For example, since Stephen Keshi became coach of the national team, Ike Uche has scored five goals with only one of them being on the road against Liberia in Monrovia.

Based on this, if I was Keshi, I wouldn’t play Uche against Congo, but someone else who will guarantee goals.

Ike Uche would lead my lines against South Africa in Uyo, though.

Maybe, a doctor in the house or psychologist could help explain this.


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