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…UTAKA BEGS LARGERBACK FOR WORLD CUP SHIRT

By NBF NEWS
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Out-of-favour Nigerian international striker, John Utaka, will want to gun down Tottenham Hotspur in Sunday's English FA Cup semi-final and at the same time impress the Super Eagles' Coach, Lars Lagerback, that he deserves to be considered for a place in the team's squad for World Cup in June.

Lagerback, along with assistant, Roland Andersson, will be in the stands at Wembley as Utaka and compatriot, Nwankwo Kanu, team up for Portsmouth in its bid to stage a return to the final of the FA Cup, two years after it beat Cardiff City to claim Pompey's cup conquest for only the second time in its 102-year history.

Injuries and a slump in form have conspired to drop Utaka from the plans of the Super Eagles, so much so that he last featured for Nigeria in June as a late substitute against Tunisia in Tunis.

However, the 28-year-old Utaka has insisted all that was in the past and he could not wait to convince Lagerback of his new-found form. The Rennes' former star was picked as Portsmouth Player of the Month of February after netting a brace against Sunderland in the fourth round of the FA Cup, and but for a groin injury would have been a fixture in Avram Grant's starting XI ever since.

“I'm happy with my form lately and I'm looking forward to taking such form to the World Cup,” said Utaka. “Winning the Player of the Month Award was a clear indication that I'm fully back and ready to go.

“And it would be great to play at the World Cup. God willing, I will be in South Africa. It would be great to be back at the World Cup after playing at the 2002 edition.”