By Izuchukwu Okosi:
Returnee Super Eagles chief coach Stephen Keshi has sensationally recalled Villarreal of Spain striker Ikechukwu Uche back into the Eagles fold nearly two years after his last appearance for the Nigerian national team.
Keshi and Uche had a long-standing strained relationship which elicited mixed reactions from Nigerian football faithful.
Keshi had vowed never to invite Uche to the national team as long as he remains the Eagles boss, but following his recall to the team after he had been relieved of his duties and replaced by Amodu Shuaibu on interim basis, Keshi has now yielded to the demands of fans of the resurgent striker by inviting him for Nigeria’s crucial 2015 African Cup of Nations qualifiers against Congo and South Africa alongside 24 other players.
However, there was no place still for Seattle Sounders striker Obafemi Martins in Keshi’s squad. Keshi had claimed martins was too ‘old’ for the team and should give opportunity to the younger players. Keshi further resisted pressure to introduce Flying Eagles forward Kelechi Iheanacho to the team.
Iheanacho though will concentrate on the Nigerian U-20 assignment for the 2015 African Youth Championship in Senegal and most possibly, the U-23 team for the All African Games with Samson Siasia back in the Dream Team saddle.
Surprisingly though, Schalke of Germany attacking midfielder cum winger, Chinedu Obasi was left out of the team, likewise Victor Moses, who only missed the last two round of games against Sudan due to injury.
Keshi handed a first senior team opportunity to Nasarawa United midfielder Tony Edjomari.
The Big Boss has recalled to the team, home –based defender Solomon Kwambe, while Aaron Samuel (who got one of the goals against Sudan), Hope Akpan, Sunday Emmanuel and home –boy Emem Eduok have further chances after being called for the matches against Sudan.
Regulars like captain and goalkeeper Vincent Enyeama, Mikel Obi, Ogenyi Onazi, Emmanuel Emenike, Godfrey Oboabona, Elderson Echiejile, Ahmed Musa and Babatunde Michael are also invited.
All the 25 invited players are expected to report at the Bolton White Apartments, Wuse, Abuja on Sunday, November 9.
The Super Eagles squad for Congo and South Africa:
GOALKEEPERS: Vincent Enyeama (Lille OSC, France); Austin Ejide (Hapoel Be’er Sheva, Israel); Chigozie Agbim (Gombe United, Nigeria)
DEFENDERS: Elderson Echiejile (Monaco FC, France); Juwon Oshaniwa (Ashdod FC, Israel); Efe Ambrose (Celtic FC, Scotland); Solomon Kwambe (Sunshine Stars, Nigeria); Godfrey Oboabona (Rizespor FC, Turkey); Kenneth Omeruo (Middlesbrough FC, England); Azubuike Egwuekwe (Warri Wolves, Nigeria).
MIDFIELDERS: John Mikel Obi (Chelsea FC, England); Ogenyi Onazi (SS Lazio, Italy); Hope Akpan (Reading FC, England); Raheem Lawal (Eskisehirspor FC, Turkey); Omatsone Aluko (Hull City, England); Tony Edjomari (Nasarawa United, Nigeria).
FORWARDS: Ahmed Musa (CSKA Moscow, Russia); Emmanuel Emenike (Fenerbahce FC, Turkey); Gbolahan Salami (Warri Wolves, Nigeria); Osaguona Ighodaro (Enugu Rangers, Nigeria); Ikechukwu Uche (Villareal FC, Spain); Aaron Samuel (Guangzhou R&F, China); Sunday Emmanuel (SV Scholz Grodig, Austria); Babatunde Michael (Volyn Lutsk, Ukraine): Emem Eduok (Dolphins FC, Nigeria)