Newcastle striker Shola Ameobi
By Olawale Ajimotokan
Newcastle striker Shola Ameobi will get a second chance to re establish himself as a full blown international as he is understood to be on the wish list of Super Eagles coach Stephen Keshi.
Information Monday night revealed that Keshi is thinking of including Ameobi and US-based forward Bright Chinedu Dike on the list of foreign-based players to camp for the Brazil 2014 World Cup qualifier against Kenya.
The national coach is about setting up talks with the Nigeria Football Federation (NFF) Technical Committee on the players to be considered and modality of his plans for the match against the Harambee Stars.
The Kenyans will be visiting on March 23 in a Group F fixture billed for the UJ Esuene Stadium, Calabar.
Incidentally, both Ameobi and Dike were ephemeral figures in Keshi’s plan for the Africa Cup of Nations, before they were excluded from the final party which eventually defeated Burkina Faso on February 10, to end Nigeria’s 19-year cup drought.
We learnt that Keshi is considering recalling any of the two players to replace Emmanuel Emenike who injured his right leg at the Africa Cup of Nations semi-final match against Mali and has been pronounced unfit for competitive action for eight weeks by doctors.
The physical attributes of Dike and Ameobi is an extra advantage as Keshi is known for his preference for muscular forwards who can link up with the rest of the field and hold up play up front.
Dike who plays for Portland Timbers, made two full pre-Africa Cup of Nations appearances against Venezuela and Catalonia. The US born striker scored the equalizer against the separatist Catalonia side during the friendly in Barcelona which ended 1-1.
Newcastle refused to release Ameobi, who was a firm favourite to make the Nations Cup squad, citing a clause in his contract would not permit the player to participate in the tournament without the permission of his manager.
The English Premier League side said Ameobi was a key to their relegation dog-fight and would not let the player travel to South Africa on national duty for as along as three weeks.
Ameobi, who made his international debut against Venezuela, also appeared to have fallen out with Keshi in the course of the saga as he was alleged to have refused to answer calls from the Nigerian coach.