When Super Eagles Coach Stephen Keshi, released the 32-man provisional list for the 2013 African Cup of Nations (AFCON) last Saturday, he did what he hoped will get him started to select a squad that will be favorites to be champions of the tournament; rather, it is now a row over player selection and availability.
He dropped choice striker Osaze Odemwingie from his list, and Shola Ameobi of Newcastle United made the list. Odemwingie hasn’t played for the country since February 2012, and missed decisive, qualifying matches for the championship. He reportedly has run-in with the coach over the past few months, and takes to twitter to rail about his misgivings with the team management.
Shola Ameobi played for England U—21 many years ago, but was cleared by FIFA recently to play for the National Team of Nigeria. He featured in a friendly game with Venezuela in November and was on Keshi’s 32 man list for AFCON. Alan Pardew, manager of Newcastle United, has said that Ameobi will not be part of the team, giving the player’s importance to the team and absence of an equivalent replacement.
Fallout from the situation has prompted media exchanges and response, dragging Stephen Keshi – who should be focused on teamwork and selection for the final 23-man list – into fray. Many believe that Odemwingie is a tested player who gives all on the pitch, should have made the list regardless of the personal issues he has with Keshi.
Odemwingie brings pace to the attack, assisting or netting goals himself. He has his issues, but is considered one of Nigeria’s best – currently – in the attack, and should not be ignored if Nigeria will go far in the competitive championship. The coach has his reasons for dropping him, but grievances between team members which may dinge teamwork maybe part of it.
Ameobi’s issue is prompting exchanges between Pardew and Keshi; and generating fuss that may lead to Newcastle allowing Ameobi to play for the country, time however is short and Keshi may want to move on, from the player and find satisfactory replacement. Choice players that Keshi also dropped from the squad include Taye Taiwo and Obafemi Martins. You can see the squad list below:
Goalkeepers : Vincent Enyeama (Maccabi Tel Aviv, Israel); Austin Ejide (Hapoel Be’er Sheba, Israel); Chigozie Agbim (Enugu Rangers); Daniel Akpeyi (Heartland)
Defenders : Elderson Echiejile (FC Braga, Portugal); Juwon Oshaniwa (Ashdod FC, Israel); Benjamin Francis (Heartland); Joseph Yobo (Fenerbahce, Turkey); Efe Ambrose (Celtic, Scotland); Solomon Kwambe (Sunshine Stars); Azubuike Egwuekwe (Warri Wolves); Danny Shittu (Milwall, England); Kenneth Omeruo (ADO Den Haag, Netherlands); Godfrey Oboabona (Sunshine Stars)
Midfielders : John Mikel Obi (Chelsea, England); Nosa Igiebor (Real Betis, Spain); Ogenyi Onazi (Lazio, Italy); Raheem Lawal (Adana Demirspor, Turkey); Obiora Nwankwo (Calcio Padova, Italy); Fegor Ogude (Valerenga FC, Norway); Reuben Gabriel (Kano Pillars); Rabiu Ibrahim (Celtic FC, Scotland)
Strikers : Ahmed Musa (CSKA Moscow, Russia); Emmanuel Emenike (Spartak Moscow, Russia); Brown Ideye (Dynamo Kyiv, Ukraine); Victor Moses (Chelsea, England); Uche Kalu (Rizespor, Turkey); Bright Dike (Portland Timbers, USA); Shola Ameobi (Newcastle United, England); Ikechukwu Uche (Villarreal FC, Spain); Ejike Uzoenyi (Enugu Rangers); Sunday Mba (Enugu Rangers)