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Sports News
Nigeria seek Akide return 4/24/2007
Officials of the Nigeria Football Association (NFA) are hoping to persuade former African Women''''s Footballer of the Year Mercy Akide-Udoh to end her self-imposed international exile.

The 31-year-old has not played for the African Champions since the 2004 Athens Olympic Games.

She was originally included in Nigeria''''s squad for last year''''s African Women''''s Championship but decided not to play after a disagreement with Super Falcons coach Effiom Ntiero.

Instead Akide-Udoh opted to concentrate on playing for her United States W-league side Hampton Roads Piranhas and on her role as a Fifa ambassador.

NFA board member Princess Bola Jegede is confident they can persuade her to return to the international fold.

"We''''re in a tough World Cup group with women and not girls," Jegede said.

Honestly, I''''m not desperate to play in any competition

Mery Akide-Udoh

"We need our experienced players like Mercy Akide, Omagbemi and Maureen Madu, because they have been to three world championships.

"All I know is that Mercy decided to stay away due to a problem with the coach, I know she can be talked to, so she could fight for a place in the World Cup team.

"I''''m sure Florence Omagbemi [former Nigeria captain] is still willing to play, I hope Mercy too will rescind on her decision because Nigeria needs her."

Akide-Udoh, who is Nigeria''''s all-time leading scorer with over 50-international goals, has not ruled out a return altogether saying it is up to the coach.

"It''''s up to the coach. I''''ve already made my own decision a long time ago, but the ball is in his court," she said.

"Honestly, I''''m not desperate to play in any competition.

"I have played at the very highest level and I know that whatever happens, I will be in China for the World Cup as a Fifa Ambassador, just like I was at the Under-19 Championship last year."

African champions Nigeria will face two-time champions United States, Sweden, runners-up in 2003, and Asia''''s top team North Korea in Group B of this year''''s Women''''s World Cup

 
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