Kuqi delighted with international return
FREE-scoring Shefki Kuqi is delighted he changed his mind about turning his back on international football, writes Derek Davis.Ipswich Town's top scorer so far this season revealed to the EADT in August that he would not turn out for Finland again while Antii Muurinen was still coach.
FREE-scoring Shefki Kuqi is delighted he changed his mind about turning his back on international football, writes Derek Davis.
Ipswich Town's top scorer so far this season revealed to the EADT in August that he would not turn out for Finland again while Antii Muurinen was still coach.
But when Mikkel Forssell injured a knee and was forced out of the World Cup qualifiers, Kuqi answered his country's SOS and the decision was vindicated when he hit a brace against Armenia on Saturday to take Finland joint top of their group.
Kuqi last night told the EADT: “I never wanted to cause a problem and spoke to the coach about the situation. It was pointless for me to travel with the squad all over the place when I was not going to get a game.
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“The coach plays one striker up front and when Mikkel was fit he was going to be the starter and that was only right because he has been fantastic for Finland.
“Unfortunately for Finland, but perhaps fortunately for me, Mikkel had a recurrence of a knee injury and can not play.
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“The coach explained that I would be starting and so I was jumped at the chance.”
Muurinen turned to Kuqi after the Kosovan-born hitman notched three goals in two games to overcome Plymouth and earn a draw against Reading last month.
Coupled with the brace he scored against Rotherham, Kuqi has managed five in 12 league matches and that he believes is the key to a recall.
Kuqi said: “We have had a really good start to the season at Ipswich and I have helped us go level top with a couple of goals.
“That has really given me confidence and no doubt doing well for Ipswich has earned me this selection.
“Just as at Ipswich when I get the chance I work as hard as I can to take it.”
The 27-year-old stood firm when Town tried to ship him out - first of all to Korea and then to German Bundesliga side Hansa Rostock.
Kuqi was last night training in the Amsterdam ArenA with his Finnish team-mates and admitted facing the Dutch tonight will present a huge challenge.
He said: “Armenia were a good side who had control of parts of the game and we did not play particularly well.
“They are not big players but technically very good.
“Holland are altogether stronger and will present us with new problems.
“But if we can get something out of this game it will put us in a very strong position in the group and a great chance to qualify for the World Cup next year.”
Canadian skipper Jason De Vos has described tonight's World Cup qualifier against Costa Rica in Vancouver as make or break.
The Canucks have just two points from six games and only victory over Paolo Wanchope's Costa Rica and then Guatemala next month will give them a chance of squeezing into the final qualifying stage.
De Vos last night said: “There is no room for anything other than a win, even a draw means we are out. We are capable of winning both games but we will need decent officials and to make sure we do not defend naively, as we did last weekend when we should have hung on to get a deserved win in Honduras.”
Along with Darren Bent and Lewis Price, De Vos and Kuqi are expected to report back for training at Portman Road on Friday.