The Nigerian Football Federation (NFF) yesterday threatened to report both Newcastle United and Milwall to FIFA, because they will not release their players – Shola Ameobi and Danny Shittu respectively - to play in the African Cup of Nations (AFCON) to take place in South Africa later this month.
Shola Ameobi - will he be grounded?
Nigeria have invited both players to join them to take part in the AFCON tournament, but neither player is being allowed to participate by their clubs.
The Chairman of their Technical Committee, Chris Green, said the players have to report by January 5th to the Nigerian training camp, which means Shola would not be able to play at Brighton – if he joins them:
“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 honor 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 them. That will not be right.”
The problem is that this is the third AFCON tournament in four years, and it occurs slap bang in the middle of the European Football season, and clubs have to give up some of their players for up to six weeks.
But Green also said that both clubs have communicated with the Nigerian Football Federation over the fact that their players will not be arriving.
It seems a risk that Newcastle are taking, and it’s very likely the FA will not allow Shola to play for Newcastle during the time Nigeria are engaged in the AFCON in South Africa – but Newcastle may think that it’s better that Shola stays in Newcastle, even though he probably cannot play for the side.
And then there’s a chance that Newcastle will simply accept the fact that Shola goes off to play for Nigeria, and travels maybe after tonight’s game against Everton, although the 31 year-old hasn’t played for Newcastle in the last couple of games, since he scored that great winner against QPR in our last home game.
The AFCON competition takes place between January 19th and February 10th.
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