The BBC is reporting today that Newcastle’s hero on Saturday, Shola Ameobi, will not be going to the African Cup of Nations (AFCON) next month in Nigeria’s squad, and that’s according to his manager Alan Pardew.
Ameobi scored a fantastic winner against QPR
Shola was named in the provisional Nigerian squad only last week by manager Stephen Keshi – but the news is that Alan Pardew has said the 31 year-old striker will not be taking part in the tournament.
This is what Alan Pardew said today:
“Shola won’t be going. The national team manager knows the reasons, which I am keeping to myself.”
Shola picked up his first ever International cap when he came on for Nigeria in their 3-1 win over Venezuela in Miami last month, and he got rave reviews from Keshi after the game, and it was assumed he would be in the final squad and therefore miss up to six weeks playing for Newcastle while he was in South Africa for the AFCON.
But we also remember that Newcastle were not allowed to play Papiss Cisse in the next Premier League game, when the Tyneside club refused to allow him to travel to play for Senegal in a friendly match recently, because of a back injury, and we wonder if the law is on Alan’s side in preventing Shola from playing in South Africa?
Of course if Demba Ba leaves Newcastle next month, we will be very short of strikers, since we only have three experienced ones at the club at present, after we let both Leon Best and Peter Lovenkrands leave in the summer, and we could lose two if Ba leaves and Shola goes to the AFCON – although Newcastle are trying to bring Loic Remy into the club next month.
It’s OK for Alan to say Shola’s not going, but we believe the clubs have to release the players for the tournament, and remember what Senegal did after Cisse wasn’t released for a mere friendly game.
But of course the clubs pay the wages of these players, and we’ve had both Tim Krul and Fab Coloccini come back injured from playing in Internationals already this season.
This is a strange statement from the Newcastle manager, and we would expect he’s been in contact with the Nigerian Football Federations on this, and maybe he persuaded Keshi not to pick Shola in his final squad.
There’s also a possibility that Pardew knows that Demba Ba will be on his way in January, and that’s one of the reasons he wants Ameobi to stay at home and not play in the AFCON – and maybe that is reason enough?
There’s lots of questions about this story – to be sure.
What do you think?
You can also reach Ed at firstname.lastname@example.org