Will Ameobi be on the plane to South Africa?
With Nigeria’s place at the African Cup of Nations secured this weekend against Liberia in Calabar, all eyes are turning towards the tournament in South Africa next year. Nigeria boss Stephen Keshi has been eyeing some new potential squad members for his Super Eagles. Newcastle striker Shola Ameobi seems to be firmly in the boss’s plans.
Despite all that has been written and discussed recently concerning Nigeria’s plethora of options in the final third, it seems that Super Eagles head coach Stephen Keshi is keen to further augment his attacking options. A goal.com report (h/t Yahoo! Sports) suggested that Newcastle frontman Shola Ameobi is likely to be involved in Nigeria’s Afcon preparations.
Having already played for England at the youth level, Ameobi has only had the option to play for Nigeria since FIFA removed the pre-subscribed age limit for switching nationality. Following the alteration to this ruling, players who had previously represented one nation at espoirs level could now play for another at the senior level. The ruling has benefitted many French-speaking nations, and now it seems that Nigeria may well benefit as well.
Whilst the news may not be welcomed by Newcastle boss Alan Pardew, who already looks likely to lose influential midfielder Chieck Tioté during the tournament, the news gives Ameobi a chance to belatedly realise his potential with the Super Eagles. He rejected a call-up over a decade ago, before finally accepting in early 2011, only for FIFA to intervene.
Ameobi may offer a physical presence and a stolid endurance up front, but his inclusion raises questions about the international futures of many of Naija’s other superstar strikers. Which Super Eagle hot shot will have to take a backseat to Shola?