No Nations Cup for Ameobi – NFF

For choosing to captain his Newcastle side in an FA Cup match rather than meet the weekend deadline for reporting to the Super Eagles training cup for the African Cup of Nations, striker Shola Ameobi has forfeited his place in the squad.

Ameobi was the captain of Newcastle in their shock third round exit from the FA Cup, when they lost 2-0 to lowly Brighton and Hove Albion.

The 31-year old striker had made his debut for Nigeria in November in a friendly match against Venezeula and was highly expected to be in the final list of 23 players which shall form the Super Eagles squad for the continental tourney between January 19 and February 10 in South Africa.

However, Newcastle manager, Alan Pardew had declared that he was not letting Ameobi go for the competition when the provisional list included his name, even though no reason was given.

Even though Ameobi’s contract included a clause that allowed the English club to retain his services during the competition, it was not until this weekend that Head Coach Stephen Keshi dropped him from the squad.

The team spokesman, Ben Alaiya, told newsmen at the camp in Faro, Portugal that the chapter concerning Ameobi was over and what was left was to release the final 23-man list, which is expected on Tuesday, a day before they play a warm-up match against Cape Verde Islands in Portugal.

Nigeria is in Group C, alongside defending champions Zambia, Ethiopia and Burkina Faso and shall play its matches in Rustenberg.

Meanwhile, Zambia has been heavily criticized in the media after the defending champions suffered a third friendly match in a row when losing 2-0 to Group A contenders, Angola at the Dobsonville Stadium in Soweto.

Many newspapers criticized the tactics of French manager, Herve Renard who substituted virtually the entire starting line-up at half-time.

“Zambia received a wake-up call when losing to Angola,” said a concerned Sunday Mail while the Sunday Times noted that “Zambian preparations got a reality check in a shocking loss”.

But team spokesman Erick Mwanza cautioned against over-reaction after Chipolopolo (The Coppers Bullets) conceded a goal in each half against the Angolans after losing in Saudi Arabia and Tanzania last month.

“We know our fans want the team to win all the time and we understand their passion, but these friendlies are not win-at-all-costs games. They offer an opportunity to test all the players in contention for squad places,” he said.

The Herald NG

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