• Tuesday, July 16, 2024
businessday logo

BusinessDay

Osaze, Uche, Super Eagles 2014 World Cup squad

businessday-icon

With less than 69 days to the kick-off of the Brazil 2014 World Cup, two Nigerian ex-internationals, Mutiu Adepoju and Kanu Nwankwo, have added their voices to the growing list of people calling for the inclusion of Villareal’s Ike Uche and Stoke City’s Osaze Odemwingie, in the Super Eagles team to the Mundial.

The Super Eagles find themselves in Group F, along with Argentina, Bosnia-Herzegovina and Iran when World Cup hostilities begin on June 12.

Although, Nigeria had a successful African Cup of Nations where they won the trophy thanks to the tactical and technical skills of Stephen Keshi, many believe, and rightly so, that the World Cup is a much bigger stage and will be a different kettle of fish for the reigning ACN champions.

At the last edition of the Nations’ Cup in South Africa, Keshi paraded a young, dynamic, determined and organised team that believed in themselves, which led to their triumphant outing.

The World Cup is a different stage where only the best must feature.

Many pundits have opined that Keshi needs experienced and matured players with young and versatile lads to compliment and add balance to the team.

The Super Eagles under Keshi have been struggling without another proven goal scorer like Emmanuel Emenike.

Osaze-Ike-Uche

Meanwhile, Villareal’s Ike Uche and Stoke City’s Osaze Odemwingie, have hit a rich vein of form for their respective clubs and have been very consistent of late. Uche could be backup for Emenike in front of goal based on his exposure and current form.

Keshi has however complained about Uche’s indiscipline. For the coach, discipline in a team is an essential and key ingredient for any team to succeed in any competition.

On his part, Osaze’s spate with Keshi was a media hot topic for a long time as the player took to Twitter to air his grievances with the coach and the nation’s football authorities. Though it was recently reported that he had apologised to Keshi, the coach has remained adamant about not recalling him into the World Cup bound team.

At present, both are doing well in their clubs and can offer Nigeria variable options in the creative attacking positions and as second strikers when the need arises.

Many Nigerians have also called for the inclusion of these two players into the squad that will be in Brazil.

Mutiu Adepoju, a part of the Super Eagles team that won the trophy in 1994, has also clamoured for the inclusion of the duo of Uche and Osaze in the Super Eagles for the World Cup.

Adepoju said whatever misunderstanding coach Stephen Keshi has with both players should be resolved.

“What we need for the World Cup are players who are doing well in their respective clubs and it is evident that both Osaze and Uche are doing very well for their clubs; and based on that, I think they should be given a call.

“I know Keshi has been having a running battle with the two players which has led to them not being part of the team for a very long time. But I will urge Keshi to reconsider and extend invitations to them. He should forgive them and let bygone be bygone.”

It would be recalled that Uche was part of the 2013 African Cup of Nations winning squad in South Africa but didn’t score in the games he featured in for the Eagles.

On his part, Osaze last played for the team after a below-par performance against Rwanda in a 2013 Cup of Nations qualifier.

Kanu Nwankwo, popularly known as ‘Papilo’ called on the Nigerian Football Federation (NFF) Nigeria’s governing body, to intervene in the matter.“As I always say, the situation is something that they have to solve and sort out. The NFF has to be involved to make sure it is sorted out,” he said.

“Keshi is the boss as the coach, while Osaze is a player. The situation is between a player and a coach and whatever decision the coach takes becomes the final.

“However, no matter the situation, Osaze remains a good player that, of course, Nigeria would need any day any time. But, the situation is now a big problem and the earlier it’s solved, the better.

“Therefore, the NFF has to intervene to ensure that there is peace. Let me also correct the impression that winning the Nations’ Cup without some senior players means that they are no longer needed in the team.

“What it means is that Nigeria is blessed; it also shows that we have the talent, the players and we can now do without anybody because nobody is bigger than the country. The meaning is that whoever you are and wherever you are, you have to appreciate that Nigeria is bigger than any individual. The players must understand the magnitude of pressure on them from more than 160 million Nigerians.

“No player should see himself as god and it applies also to every other Nigerian in every field of human endeavour. Every player must begin to appreciate the importance of the invitation to play for his fatherland,” he noted.

Keshi needs players with strong mentality, and that is what the World Cup requires.

Anthony Nlebem