Keshi Gets Support From NFF Over Players Call-up

Nigeria’s football management body, the Nigeria Football Federation (NFF) has backed former Super Eagles captain and now Super Eagles head coach, Stephen Keshi over team selection despite the loud protest by the team captain Joseph Yobo.

Yobo was very livid to learn that he was left out of the selection that will be facing the Harambee Stars of Kenya for the World cup qualification clash in Calabar last month.

Several other big players of the Super Eagles criticized Keshi’s act but Yobo who was definitely embittered was of the loudest as he openly criticized Keshi for leaving him out of the team after their victorious return from South Africa as the Super Eagles were crowned the African champions.

One official of the NFF said Stephen Keshi will always get the support of the federation as they have already resolved earlier to give him their support and allow him a free hand.

“We appointed Keshi for the Super Eagles job and we have resolved to give him a free hand to pick the players he deems fit to prosecute matches and thus far his selections have produced results,”.

According to an executive member of the NFF; Chris Green, there are several issues which is in the top drawer of the federation which has be addressed and be addressed in good time too, because it is in the interest of the federation to promote peace in the team for without peace the sole purpose of having a coach to steer the team is defeated.

Green made mention of the Yobo vs Keshi, Osaze and Keshi, Emmanuel Emenike, Danny Shittu issues as part of the issues to be addressed in meeting in Abuja.

“We are going to look at the issues objectively. A coach is a coach and is in charge of the team and can decide the players who could best play a game for him.”

“However, when players begin to complain and senior players for that matter, there is need for us to mediate because the team can only achieve more when they are united.

“Our concern is not to fan the ego of anyone, but for peace to reign in the Eagles. We appointed Keshi for this job and we believe in his ability, therefore we must do everything to make sure his job is easy and void of whatever distraction,”

It would be recalled that Joseph Yobo didn’t feature in most of the matches that Nigeria played during the Afcon 2013 in South Africa due to injury.

However, the captain who returned to his club and started playing immediately stated that he is not down with injury as he has been active for his Turkish club since the Nations cup, knocking off the issue of injury being responsible for being excluded from the Super Eagles call-up.

I Skipped Eagles Superstars Due To Personality Problems – Keshi

Coach Stephen Keshi has opened up on West Brom and Nigerian International Osaze Odemwingie, saying he skipped the player’s name from his squad selection because Osaze had personality problems which he felt cannot be permitted in the squad.

A lot of uproar was generated between the coach and the West Brom player before the Afcon 2013 tournament due to Osaze’s non-inclusion in the provisional squad to the Nations Cup in South Africa.

To a lot of football-loving Nigerians, it appeared as if Keshi didn’t have an idea of what he was doing. This perception continued into the tournament especially in the face of the abysmal performance by the Super Eagles in the group games, giving rise to many questioning why players like Osaze and others were dropped from Keshi’s provisional squad.

“We decided not to take some of these superstars to the Nations Cup because it is a long period of time and for the long period of time, you need characters that go together,” the former Super Eagles captain explained in an interview with Daily Trust.

“And if you have one or two who do not get along, forget about the superstars, the team will fall apart. I can bring a player in for a game. We can manage some of these players with a little bit of character problems, but when it comes to a long period of time, that’s difficult.

“Odemwingie is a very good player, a player I love to have in the team, but he wants to do what he wants to do.

“In the national team, where I was captain for 14 years, you are nothing but an individual in the team as you are not bigger than Nigeria. If you are not ready to give the green-and-white shirt the due respect, you are walking out of my team.

“We talked on the phone, I told him what I wanted from him, but he had his own notion and I said for now, I will skip you.”

Keshi also revealed that Obafemi Martins was not ready for the Nations Cup, but he has not shut the door against the Levante striker.

“He is still part of the group. If his name is in the next call-up, if he wants to come, we will see how it goes,” he said.

The Eagles coach admitted he missed Newcastle striker Shola Ameobi at the African Nations Cup, whose presence in the dressing room would have improved his team.

“Honestly speaking, I missed Shola Ameobi because in the game against Venezuela, he has a different presence in the locker room, he came in with this coaching ability and togetherness, when he talks to these boys they listen. This was the first time he was coming.

“This was what I was looking for on the pitch, somebody who could talk for me on the field, because I know what I did as a captain on the pitch.

“He was really, really ready to come, but his contract denied him from coming.”

Keshi’s Star Players

Keshi also said he will stick with Efe Ambrose at right back despite concerns the Celtic star is being played out of position.

Ambrose is best known as a central defender, but was played at right during the 2013 AFCON in South Africa with many raising concerns over his suitability in that position.

Keshi said the versatile Ambrose grew as a right back during the AFCON.

“He was growing during the tournament; he loves to play in the position. With every game Ambrose was just marching forward with a lot of confidence. If he were not growing, then that’s a different thing,” Keshi remarked.

“He is a very technical player. He loves playing this position and so we said go ahead.

“He can also play in central defence, as a defensive midfielder and at right back; same goes for Oboabona, Kenneth (Omeruo) and Onazi.

“An emergency could come up and we are blessed to have players who can play different positions. It’s a wonderful gift.

“This is what we are looking for in a team, like when Onazi came in and played right back for Efe Ambrose when he was suspended.”

AFCON 2013: We Wouldn’t Miss Ameobi – Babangida

Former Eagles Player and World Cup Star, Tijani Babangida have taken a swipe at Newcastle Player and Nigerian International Shola Ameobi after he chose to turn down National duty for club assignments.

Babangida blasted Ameobi saying he should have respected and honoured his home country before his club but nevertheless he won’t be missed on the line-up for the Afcon 2013 which will be kick started this January.

The National Team and Coach Stephen Keshi decided to throw out Ameobi after it was becoming a serious row between the country and club over the player and eventually the Coach  waited till Saturday midnight to finally take a decision on the Ameobi matter thereby resting what would have been taken to FIFA for a final decision.

Ameobi featured in the game against Venezuela in what passed as the player’s debut last November after he completed his international change from England.

Ameobi however decided to choose Newcastle over Nigeria after Newcastle manager; Alan Pardew appealed to the player to stick with the club not considering his chance of being on the roll-call of international glory.

And Alan Pardew’s claim of holding Ameobi was because Demba Ba was certain to ditch the club in the January transfer window.

Babangida could not hold back his feelings saying Ameobi should count himself very lucky for getting a national call-up but he ended up holding his loyalty to his club side ahead of Nigeria.

How many would have knocked back a major international competition the way Shola has?

Not many … I can promise you.

“Nigeria is too big for Ameobi or any player for that matter.  He should know that he is lucky to represent this country. I am sure he will later regret this.

“One other thing is clear – his absence won’t affect Eagles at the Nations Cup.”

NFF To Petition FIFA over Ameobi and Shittu

The Nigeria Football Federation (NFF) has said it will take action against Newcastle United and Millwall Football Club by submitting a petition to FIFA if both England clubs fail to release Shola Ameobi and John Shittu for the 2013 Africa Nations Cup taking place in South Africa.

Ameobi was refused permission to join the Eagles for the competition after Newcastle said a clause in his last contract with the club specifies that he will not be attending the Nations Cup while Millwall also stated that Shittu will not play for Nigeria in South Africa.

Chairman of the Technical Committee of the NFF, Chris Green, made the threat known in Port Harcourt, adding that NFF would petition FIFA if both clubs did not release the players by January 5. Green also said the clubs were yet to make official contact with NFF over the unavailability of the two players.

He said, “Now, for Danny Shittu and Shola Ameobi, as far as we are concerned, we do not want that matter to distract us because the coach is ready to work without the players.

“But again, the football federation shall consider such attitude as quite unwholesome on the part of the players as well as their clubs because as it appears, it’s the clubs that are pushing for these players not to honour the invitation to play for their country.

“So, of course, we are going to take the matter to FIFA; we are going to write appropriately; we are not going to lie low because, at least, let’s do what is right, that we should not be taken for granted. After all, these players were found in Nigeria, these players are from Nigeria and they also desire to play for Nigeria.

“So, what is the problem? Why would they have to stop them, using underarm tricks to stop the players. That will not be right,” Green said.

The NFF official however added that coach Stephen Keshi had enough quality in the team and would still do well in South Africa without Ameobi and Shittu. The Eagles are already in Faro, Portugal, preparing for the Nations Cup.

 

I Want To Avoid Creating Problems For Any Player — Keshi

Following the row going on between Nigeria and the club managers of Millwall and Newcastle; Kenny Jackett and Alan Pardew over Nigerian defender and Millwall’s Danny Shittu and Newcastle player Shola Ameobi, Super Eagle head coach; Stephen Keshi said he will be willing to let the players be, if the row will affect their careers as he is not out to let them lose favour in their various clubs.

“I would not want to cause any problems for any player over something like this because it is his career and eventually he will have to return to his club,” he said.

This is coming after Nigeria hit out at Newcastle United for not allowing Shola Ameobi to play at next month’s African Nations Cup in South Africa.

Nigeria has been drawn in Nations Cup Group C with Burkina Faso, Ethiopia and defending champions Zambia.

Pardew responded to the naming of the Nigerian player saying Ameobi cannot go to South Africa and the national team manager;Keshi knows the reason why which he is not revealing.

“The national team manager knows the reasons – which I am keeping to myself.”

The African tournament which will be holding from Jan. 19th- Feb 10th named Newcastle Ameobi in the provisional list but Alan Pardew whom Keshi claimed he has never met in his life has refused to let the player report to the Super Eagles training camp in Portugal.

“I don’t know what is in his head or what he is thinking about. I have never spoken to Alan Pardew in my life; I have only seen him on television.”

Keshi said during an interview on the Supersports channel that Pardew cannot stop Ameobi from reporting for National duties because the Afcon is a competition backed by FIFA; the World football governing body.

“Alan Pardew knows he cannot stop Shola from going to the Nations Cup because the competition is sanctioned by soccer’s ruling body.”

Pardew’s Newcastle is not sitting comfortably right now on the English Premier League table as the club is just five points above the relegation zone in 15th spot, hence the reason the manager is not letting Ameobi answer to national call.

Keshi also reacted to Kenny Jackett’s refusal to release Danny Shittu who was also named in the Eagles provisional list as the Millwall manager said Shittu would not be going to the Nations Cup.

Keshi said the English clubs feel they have every right on these players so they feel they can stop them from playing for their countries. He said they really have to understand the importance of the Afcon tournament.

“I don’t know why the English clubs are trying to stop their players from going. Do they feel these players don’t have the right to play for their countries?”

“Clubs have to understand how important this competition is.”