Will Newcastle United Lose Striker For ACoN 2013 Anyway?

Stu Forster

Ivory Coast's victory over Senegal in Africa Cup of Nations qualifying was watched with interest by Toon fans. The result meant that the club would not lose star strikers Demba Ba and Papiss Cisse for the month-long competition in early 2013. A new story out, however, may precipitate NUFC losing a striker for the competition anyway.

The result of the two-legged playoff for the final ACoN spot ended up as well as could be hoped for with regard to the NUFC squad, and many of us put our eyes forward without much recent thought about the African championship. The paradigm, however, has shifted with regard to one of our strikers, and we may end up short in any event.

Although Ameobi had represented England at youth level, he never was called in or given a full international appearance (keep in mind, at the height of his powers, Ameobi would have been competing with the likes of Alan Shearer, Teddy Sheringham, Robbie Fowler and young Michael Owen). Late in 2011, Shola was approved by FIFA to represent Nigeria at the international level. An early chance for his Nigeria bow was scuppered as the FIFA decision had not yet come down, and he has not featured in a match since, but the recent news about 54-cap striker Peter Odemwingie may renew Stephen Keshi's push to get Shola in the fold.

Odemwingie last played for the Super Eagles in February in a 2013 Africa Cup of Nations qualification game against Rwanda in Kigali.

The West Brom forward then became injured and has not featured for the side since then. He was invited to play against Liberia last month but declined and the coach has now revealed that the 31-year-old has said he will no longer play for his country.

"I spoke to [Odemwingie] before the Liberia game and he told me that he had decided not to play for Nigeria anymore," Keshi told Supersport.com.

The rub of this situation is that Shola seems to be getting a serious look from Alan Pardew, and an Ameobi/Ba partnership at the front has shown the possibility of bearing fruit on a Ba/Best level from early in the 2011-12 season. While we may certainly be mostly able to survive the absence of Shola, by recent evidence it's going to be less than ideal.

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