Emenike targets Nigeria return in World Cup qualifier

By Oluwashina OkelejiBBC Sport, Lagos
Nigeria's Emmanuel Emenike
Emmanuel Emenike

Fit-again Nigeria striker Emmanuel Emenike is targeting a return to the Super Eagles' side in their crucial World Cup qualifier against Malawi in September.

Emenike has only just come back from injury following six weeks out with a knee problem. Now he is hoping he can pick up where he left off for club and country.

"I suffered that terrible injury while my confidence was high and luckily I have returned to training after six weeks out," he told BBC Sport.

"I am not at 100 per cent yet, I still need match rhythm with my club and get back to rewarding them for the support, and honour our loyal fans and everyone who stood by me.

"After five very difficult months, I also hope to play for my country again in September."

His absence was most keenly felt by the Super Eagles, who are two points ahead of Malawi at the top of their 2014 World Cup Group F.

With the African Champions struggling at the ongoing Fifa Confederations Cup, his absence has further denied them a key threat up front.

"I'm only one striker amongst many and in my absence we have great qualities in Brown Ideye, Ikechukwu Uche, Michael Eneramo, Anthony Ujah, Joseph Akpala and others.

"At the moment we have capable strikers in the squad and it is very important this team and fans come together because these players represent our country."

Back in March the African Cup of Nations top scorer had criticised the country's coach Stephen Keshi and officials for ignoring him after he suffered an injury at the Nations Cup.

But after speaking at length with both the coach and president of the Nigeria Football Federation (NFF), Aminu Maigari, the Spartak Moscow striker insists he has put the past behind.

"I felt a bit bad back then, but all that is behind me now because everyone must have learned greatly from that situation," Emenike said on Saturday.

"I was not happy and when I am not happy, I do not have the power to hide my deep disappointments and feelings.

"When I finally spoke with the coach [twice], and the NFF president, everything was discussed and sorted. It was a great step forward."

Despite winning personal accolades and achieving success with his country in February, Emenike's 2013 has been disrupted by a series of injuries and he says he has decided to make up for lost time.

"I'm working hard to get myself back fully fit for the Russian season in July, because I need to be in a better physical shape.

"'I'm very positive in that and looking forward to the challenge of helping my club and country achieve success on the pitch."

Nigeria will qualify for the 2014 World Cup qualifying play-offs in October if they avoid defeat at home to Malawi, who need a victory against the Super Eagles to make it through themselves.

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