Nigeria’s build-up to the 2012 Africa Cup of Nations has been typically eventful, with coach Stephen Keshi coming under fire for some high profile omissions.
Eyebrows were raised back home when Kalu Uche, Peter Odemwingie and Obafemi Martins were all left out of Keshi’s provisional 32-man squad for South Africa despite some good performances at club level.
Keshi has denied that personal grudges are behind the omissions, but West Bromwich Albion striker Odemwingie did not take the news lying down, accusing Keshi on Twitter of leaving him out because he speaks his mind ‘when things are not right.’ He later apologized, but the outburst appeared to seal his fate.
Newcastle United striker Shola Ameobi will also play no part after ignoring phone calls from the Nigerian Football Federation and preferring to represent the Magpies in a third round FA Cup tie against Brighton rather than flying out to a pre-tournament training camp.
Nigeria sealed qualification for the 2013 Africa Cup of Nations after failing to reach last year’s finals. They also top their 2014 World Cup qualifying group and with the likes of Cameroon and Egypt having failed to qualify for the event, will be targeting an appearance in the latter stages.
23-man Nigeria Africa Cup of Nations Squad:
Goalkeepers: Vincent Enyeama (Maccabi Tel Aviv, Israel), Austin Ejide (Hapoel Be'er Sheva, Israel), Chigozie Agbim (Enugu Rangers)
Defenders: Elderson Echiejile (SC Braga, Portugal), Juwon Oshaniwa (Ashdod FC, Israel), Joseph Yobo (Fenerbahce, Turkey), Efe Ambrose (Celtic, Scotland), Azubuike Egwuekwe (Warri Wolves), Kenneth Omeruo (ADO Den Haag, Netherlands), Godfrey Oboabona (Sunshine Stars)
Midfielders: John Mikel Obi (Chelsea, England), Nosa Igiebor (Real Betis, Spain), Ogenyi Onazi (|Lazio, Italy), Obiora Nwankwo (Padova, Italy), Fegor Ogude (Valerenga, Norway), Gabriel Reuben (Kano Pillars)
Forwards: Ahmed Musa (CSKA Moscow, Russia), Emmanuel Emenike (Spartak Moscow, Russia), Victor Moses (Chelsea, England), Sunday Mba (Enugu Rangers), Ikechukwu Uche (Villarreal, Spain), Brown Ideye (Dynamo Kiev, Ukraine), Ejike Uzoenyi (Enugu Rangers).
Player to Watch:
Victor MosesThe young Chelsea winger will be making his Africa Cup of Nations debut in South Africa. The 22-year-old has caught the eye since joining the Blues from Wigan last summer and has enough pace and trickery to cause numerous headaches for defenders in this competition. Moses represented England as a youth – he was born in Lagos, but moved to England as an 11-year-old - but committed his international future to the Super Eagles in 2011.
What They Say:
Stephen Keshi(coach)“The exclusion of these players does not mean they are not good players. I have also heard people say I have a personal grudge against these players. That is not true. It only means that they are not needed at this time. They are still in my plans (for the future). There is no problem at all.” (supersport.com)
Group Matches:21st January, 2013 v Burkina Faso
25th January, 2013 v Zambia
29th January, 2013 v Ethiopia