Vanguard (Lagos)

24 December 2012

Nigeria: Newcastle Stop Ameobi From Nations Cup, As Nff Kicks

Newcastle United striker Shola Ameobi will not be going to the Africa Cup of Nations with Nigeria, according to his manager, Alan Pardew even as Nigeria have debunked a claim by Newcastle that coach Stephen Keshi was aware of his absent.

The former England under-21 international had been named by coach Stephen Keshi in his provisional squad. But Pardew has ruled out the 31-year-old's appearance at the tournament, which kicks off on 19 January.

He said: "Shola won't be going. The national team manager knows the reasons, which I am keeping to myself."

Ameobi was born in Zaria, northern Nigeria, before moving to England with his parents at the age of five.

Under Fifa rules, players who have represented one country at junior level can play for another at senior level if they meet the qualifying criteria.

Ameobi was first called-up by the Super Eagles 10 years ago but turned down the invitation on the grounds that his heart was set on playing for England.

Shola Ameobi and Coach Stephen Keshi

He was cleared by Fifa to play for the country of his birth last month together with Chelsea winger Victor Moses.

He made his debut in a 3-1 friendly win over Venezuela last month, setting up the third goal in Miami, Florida.

Nigeria will take on African champions Zambia, Ethiopia and Burkina Faso in Group C.

...NFF dismisses 'em

Nigeria have debunked a claim by Newcastle that Shola Ameobi will skip next month's AFCON and that coach Stephen Keshi is aware of this.

"We are not aware of such a thing about Shola (Ameobi), he is a FIFA-listed player for us. The federation is not aware, the head coach is not aware of this and that was why Shola was called up for the competition," spokesman for the Nigeria Football Federation (NFF), Ademola Olajire, told MTNFootball.com

"We will do all within us to see that Shola or any player picked by the coach for the Nations Cup is released to us."

Newcastle United manager Alan Pardew said Shola Ameobi will not be going to the Nations Cup with Nigeria, according to BBC sports.

The Kogi State indigene is on the 32-man provisional squad released by Eagles coach Stephen Keshi last week.

Pardew said: "Shola won't be going. The national team manager knows the reasons, which I am keeping to myself."

Ameobi made an encouraging debut in a 3-1 friendly win over Venezuela last month, setting up the third goal in Miami.

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