Ameobi Joins Crystal Palace On Free Transfer

Shola_AmeobiNigerian international, Shola Ameobi, has signed a short-term contract with Crystal Palace until the end of the season on a free transfer after leaving Turkish side Gaziantep last month.

The 33-year-old got recognised during his time at Newcastle United, where he spent 14 years after breaking into the first-team from their academy.

In nearly a decade and a half on Tyneside, he appeared 397 times for the Magpies, scoring 79 goals, winning the Championship in 2009/10 and representing the club in the UEFA Champions League.

“I’m very excited to be here, I wanted to get back in the Premier League and having worked with the manager before, it’s been great to come back and hopefully help us avoid the relegation battle,” he said.

“I had a couple of other clubs interested but I think my relationship with Alan (Pardew) and how much I enjoyed working with him was one of the big factors in my decision.

“He instils confidence in players and he always seems to get the best out of them, certainly he did that at Newcastle and hopefully he can do that for me and the rest of the lads here,” the elated Ameobi told Crystal Palace official website.

Ameobi has also won 10 caps for Nigeria where he was born before moving to Newcastle as a youngster. He represented the Super Eagles in the 2014 World Cup, having previously won 20 caps for the England under-21 side.

He is no stranger to Palace boss Alan Pardew, having played under him for Newcastle for four years before moving to Turkey in the summer on a free after his contract expired. He scored four times in 11 outings for Gaziantep before returning to England just before the new year.

The Nigerian becomes the club’s third signing of the current transfer window after Yaya Sanogo and Jordon Mutch. He will wear the number 23 shirt during his time with the Eagles.

Super Eagles’ Divisions Should Not Be Seen On The Pitch – Obanya

Super Eagles Brazil2014Sports journalist, Nnamdi Obanya, believes that divisions are normal in national teams but should not be an excuse for Nigeria’s Super Eagles to fail at the World Cup.

During an interview on Channels Television’s Sunrise Daily, he disclosed that the reported division in the national team camp had started earlier with news filtering about a purported bust-up between striker, Emanuel Emenike and midfielder, Mikel Obi, which the team later denied.

While admitting that factions are meant to always exist in a national team, he expressed worry that while Nigeria was facing its usual problem of division, the Bosnian Coach had disclosed that he was banking on the friendship and cohesion of his players to soar above the Super Eagles in their second group game on Saturday.

The most worrisome for Obanya was that the disunity of the Nigerian team could be seen on the pitch as they lacked cohesion and “there was no respect for anybody as a leader on the pitch”.

“Enyeama is at the post and he doesn’t have the ball at his feet, but there’s nobody the players look up to. Clearly you could see the Iranians were looking up to Dejagah, Pjanic is going to have the same role for Bosnia, but Nigeria has no leader.”

Mikel Obi would naturally come to the mind of many football followers as a leader who could dictate the pace of the game with his ball distribution but Obanya noted that spreading passes was not enough but the need to spread effective passes and not long balls to a player who is easily isolated without offering any form of support.

Obanya also berated the coaching crew of the team for the lack of tactical inputs as evident in the manner the team defended set paces and the quality of passes delivered to strikers like Shola Ameobi, whom he admitted did well enough with his positioning in the game against Iran.

The Super Eagles risk elimination from the tournament as they face Bosnia and Herzegovina on Saturday in their second group game, after only managing to get a goalless draw against the expected whipping boys of the group, Iran.

Eagles Defeat Bafana Bafana To Lift Mandela Challenge

Nigeria on Wednesday defeated South Africa 2-0 in the Nelson Mandela Challenge match played at the Moses Mabhida Stadium in Durban, South Africa.

Uche Nwofor’s second half brace separated the two sides.

The former VVV Venlo striker who replaced Shola Ameobi at the start of the second half opened the scoring with a cool finish in the 49th minute.

He capped his memorable debut with a simple tap in the 68th minute following a sweeping team move involving substitutes Victor Moses and Ahmed Musa.

Meanwhile a sports journalist Nnamdi Obanya says despite the victory, the Super Eagles still need to put in more effort to improve their rating on the world ranking table.

He further added that the team urgently needs a tactical and/or a fitness manager.

Keshi To Play 2014 World Cup Qualifiers With Lean Squad

Super Eagles coach Stephen Keshi is to maintain a small squad for the 2014 World Cup qualifiers, just as he prepares to tackle the Harambee Stars of Kenya

The Nigeria Football Federation said this is due to the financial constraint plaguing the federation even though the chief coach of the Super Eagles had earlier declared his interest to add more quality players to the team that claimed the Afcon 2013 trophy.

Keshi had shown interest in players such as Shola Ameobi, Obafemi Martins and others.

According to Punch Newspaper, an official of the federation said: “Of course we will look at the list from Keshi as in the past but the key thing may not be the type of players he needs but largely on how the Federation can also accommodate his plans. In this time of lean purse, we don’t expect to see 35 players called up for the game.

“The encouragement now is that Keshi already has his core players and so he is zeroing in on exactly those he wants for this game and a few others he wants to give another opportunity to prove their worth,” the official said.

Nigeria’s Super Eagles will host the Harambee Stars of Kenya in a 2014 World Cup qualifying match on March 23.

Ben Alaiya, an official of the Federation also claimed that Stephen Keshi will be releasing his list of the squad to face the Harambee Stars soonest.

 

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.