Odemwingie defends form since Nigeria comeback

After being left in the cold by Stephen Keshi, the Stoke City player has been handed a lifeline and is desperate to impress once more for the Super Eagles in Brazil
By Lolade Adewuyi in Curitiba

Peter Odemwingie has defended his Nigeria performances since making his return to the international stage. The 32-year-old was a highly popular player for the Super Eagles until he lost his place in the squad after criticising his national team coach on Twitter two years ago.

A spell in the wilderness has, however, seen Odemwingie mature and he will make his second appearance at the World Cup this summer with a chance to prove himself on the biggest stage when Nigeria face Iran on Monday.

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Stephen Keshi's men won the Africa Cup of Nations in Odemwingie's absence but the striker believes he has much to offer the Super Eagles and insists his form will improve over time.

"It was a comeback for me and things don’t just gel overnight," Odemwingie told Goal.

"There are a few new faces to play with but the most important thing is that I'm going to give my best in games that mean a lot for us.

"I'm joining a winning side, they've been doing well in the past two years, I hope that continues.

"There's less pressure on me because there are people here who can deliver for Nigeria so I'll just give the contribution that I can and do my best."

In the same boat is captain Joseph Yobo, who fell out with the coach after the team won the Africa Cup of Nations title last year in South Africa.

The skipper has returned to the side in time for the World Cup after spending over a year in exile and he has to contend with the duo of Godfrey Oboabona and Kenneth Omeruo for a starting place in defence as he chases a record-setting 100th cap.

"We have to step it up," Yobo said. "We know the importance of starting well, it's not going to be easy against Iran, they are no pushovers.

"It's going to be a tough game on Monday but if we get the three points, then the confidence is going to grow."