Keshi Plans Talk With Odemwingie Towards 2014 World Cup
Stephen Keshi, the Super Eagles Head Coach, intends to discuss with Osaze Odemwingie on the player’s likely role at the World Cup in Brazil next summer.
The talk between Keshi and Odemwingie is timed to take place before the Eagles coach submits his provisional World Cup list to the Nigeria Football Federation (NFF) for ratification next weekend.
Odemwingie has not played for the national team since he featured in an Africa Cup of Nations Cup qualifier against Rwanda in Kigali in February 2012. The striker has been overlooked because the technical crew felt his ego could undermine team spirit.
But his recent scoring form for Stoke City in the English Premier League and the need to integrate experienced players into Nigeria’s World Cup squad have shored up sentiments in Odemwingie’s favour.
THISDAY further learnt last night that Keshi has already informed officials of NFF of his intention to engage Odemwingie who is desperate to make the World Cup party in a formal discussion.
Keshi is under pressure to include Odemwingie and another in-form player, Ike Uche, of Villareal of Spain in his Mundial plan.
Uche was accused of tactical indiscipline at the 2013 AFCON campaign in South Africa and has since been frozen out of the team.
The Chairman of NFF Technical Committee, Chris Green, who confirmed that the federation is expected to receive Keshi’s 35- player provisional list for the World Cup by next weekend, insisted that the federation would not influence the coach’s selection..
Green, who is also a member of the board of the football federation, said Keshi is at liberty to choose the players he deems fit to invite as he is the one that will be responsible for his decision at the end of the day.
“While we believe that only players that are playing well for their clubs should be invited because the World Cup is not a tea party, our job is a simple task: Keshi has the overall decision on who goes to Brazil and fits into his World Cup plan. He is going to defend his selection,’’ Green concluded last night.
Only last Sunday, Odemwingie’s stake for a place in Keshi’s Brazil-bound Eagles got a boost as the out-of-favour winger helped Stoke snatch three vital Premiership points with a 4-1 away victory over Aston Villa.
After the hosts went ahead with the opener by Christian Benteke, Odemwingie pulled Stoke level to restore hope for the visitors who have never won any away game since August last year.
But two Stoke goals in four minutes transformed the game as Odemwingie finished on the run before Peter Crouch scored from close range.
Odemwingie grabbed the first, after chipping the ball up to Crouch, taking the return and holding off Bertrand to find the bottom corner.
However, a former Eagles defender, Taribo West called for caution on the debate over whether to recall Odemwingie and Villareal’s Ike Uche back to the team.
“I just want to warn here that people should not put undue pressure on Keshi on who to use or not whether Osaze Odemwingie or Ikechukwu Uche. There should not be any distractions now. Let Keshi pick his team and let us support him with prayers. These players that have been mentioned are good and can add quality to the team but the selection of players is the sole prerogative of the head coach so don’t let us make controversy about this.
“For instance Keshi took Ike Uche to a tournament and did not do well but the player is good and doing well in his club. All of us are clamouring for Uche’s inclusion but Keshi said the player is not needed in this team because he has seen him play so we should respect the coach’s verdict and respect his decision. We have other better players in the team that can still do the job well.
“We need people like Emmanuel Emenike because he will be surely handful for Nigeria’s opponent. He is a very determined and strong player. He is the type of striker the Eagles need at the World Cup. He has prove himself in South Africa during the last Africa Nations Cup and has also proved himself in the World Cup qualifiers and now he is scoring every other day in his club/ So what else do you want. Emenike is ready and hot for the World Cup.