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Page last updated at 18:02 GMT, Tuesday, 30 September 2008 19:02 UK

Akide-Udoh ready for comeback

By Farayi Mungazi
BBC Sport

Mercy Akide-Udoh
Akide-Udoh has not played for Nigeria since 2004
Mercy Akide-Udoh has targeted the African Championship in November to make her international comeback.

The United States-based Nigerian striker has not been seen in a Super Falcons jersey since the 2004 Athens Olympics.

But the 33-year-old former African Footballer of the Year said she is hoping to play a part in Nigeria's defence of their African title in Equatorial Guinea.

"I don't know if the coach and the NFA want my services for the African championship but I'm fit and ready," said Akide-Udoh, who found herself ignominiously dropped from the national team after the 2004 Olympics.

The news that this veteran of three World Cups and three African championships is willing to return should be music to the ears of most Nigerians, especially after their team's failure at the Beijing Olympics.

"The Falcons need somebody with experience who'll tell the young players what to do in certain situations.

"I believe the team needs leadership on the field but if the coach doesn't want my services, that's fine because I have other things to do, like coaching young kids."

The first African to play in the US Women's Soccer League (Wusa), before it folded in 2003, Akide-Udoh said she was optimistic of the Super Falcons' prospects in Equatorial Guinea.

The serial African champions have been drawn in a tough group with Ghana, South Africa and Tunisia.

"I know it's a tough group but I believe the Falcons will come out of that group. The other teams are playing for second place."

The tournament takes place between 15 and 29 November.

see also
Super Falcons to take on Ghana
27 Sep 08 |  African
Black Queens ready for Falcons
28 Sep 08 |  African
Akide shines in France
21 May 04 |  African
Akide fights her critics
23 Apr 04 |  African
Nigeria seek Akide return
24 Apr 07 |  African
Akide opts out of World Cup
26 Apr 07 |  African

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