This Day (Lagos)

Nigeria: Why I Joined Sundowns - Uzoenyi

African Nations Championships (CHAN) Most Valuable Player, Ejike Uzoenyi has explained why he opted for South African Mamelodi Sundowns FC instead of heading to Europe for greener pastures.

Speaking at the weekend after penning a four-year deal with the club, the former Rangers players insisted that Sundowns' dream tallies with his ambition of conquering Africa first before heading to Europe.

"Joining a club like Sundowns is a great deal for me because their ambitions to conquer Africa are in line with my career objectives as a player," observed Uzoenyi who was largely instrumental to the bronze Nigeria won at the tournament reserved for players plying their skills for clubs in the domestic leagues in the continent. He also said that the club's head coach has programmes to assist his career growth.

"The other thing that made me join the club is that Coach Pitso had a chat with me before I joined and we had a discussion about his plans for me and I feel that I'm ready for the challenge." After being on the radar of many South African teams, and some European, the 24-year-old Uzoenyi signed a four-year deal with Mamelodi Sundowns FC.

He is expected to join the team fondly called The Brazilians in the South African league. Ejike emerged the Most Valuable Players of the 2014 African Nations Championships (CHAN) Tournament recently played in South Africa.

Negotiations for the player's acquisition have been ongoing since after the CHAN Tournament and the player is excited to have finally concluded the deal.

Meanwhile, Super Eagles goal poacher, Emmanuel Emenike, said at the weekend that he is determined to make things right for Nigeria at the World Cup in Brazil this summer.

Emenike who missed the Confederations Cup in the South American nation last summer due to injury, said in a FIFA.com interview that he is praying to make up for the miss.

Severally described as the "real heir" to Nigeria's record goal scorer, the late Rashidi Yekini, Emenike has impressed with committed displays and crucial goals for the national team.

"Here's hoping I can make up for it at the World Cup. It's an occasion that obviously means a great deal to me. Events don't come any bigger. It's going to be amazing. Touch wood I won't get injured this time," Emenike stressed. Emenike was until 2009, playing his football in South Africa with unfashionable Mpumalanga Black Aces before proceeding to join FC Cape Town.

He got his big break in 2009 when he joined Turkish club, Kardemir Karabukspor, a side where he went on to establish great emotional ties with the supporters.

"The move to Karabukspor was the turning point. I was playing in South Africa, but I dreamed of bettering myself in Europe. "I was given the chance to have a few trials in Turkey and they put their faith in me. After that everything came together," he said. He scored 30 goals in 50 league appearances for Karabukspor between 2009 and 2011 before moving to Fernabahce in 2011.

However, a match-fixing enquiry - he was subsequently acquitted - derailed Emenike's move to Fenerbahce and the two parties temporarily went their separate ways.

The forward wound up in Russia, where he continued his development at Spartak Moscow, finishing as the second top scorer in the league with 13 goals and earning his first international call-up before returning to the Turkish league last season.

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