25 November 2013
Stephen Keshi To Recall Peter Odemwingie, Taiye Taiwo And Ikechukwu Uche
Nigeria head coach, Stephen Keshi has revealed that players like Peter Odemwingie, Taye Taiwo and Ikechukwu Uche could be handed shock recalls to the national team ahead of the 2014 Fifa World Cup in Brazil.
Keshi stunned many by leaving out experienced talent from his 2013 Africa Cup of Nations and received a backlash from many who felt he was treading on thin ice.
He was eventually justified in his selections as Nigerian romped to a third Afcon success with a relatively inexperienced squad.
The "Big Boss" as Keshi is fondly called has now revealed that he has not shut the door completely on any individual as he begins preparations for the World Cup.
"Contrary to what some people think, I have not shut the door on players like Osaze (Peter Odemwingie), Ike Uche and even Taiye Taiwo. They are Nigerians and are eligible to play for the Super Eagles at all times," Keshi exclusively told supersport.com.
The gaffer however stated that they will only get a look in if they "prove themselves."
"When I was in the national team, nobody had an automatic shirt. I was the captain but I did not play in all the games.
"Everyday in training, it was war. We fought and sweated to show the coaches that we were worthy of the shirt. That is the norm now as well," he said.
Otigba, Ameobi and uncapped talent
Keshi is casting his net far afield and will not mind blooding several uncapped players as he looks to build a squad that will punch above their weight in Brazil.
Names like Kenneth "Kenny" Otigba and Sammy Ameobi readily prop up following their scintillating displays for Heerenveen and Newcastle United respectively.
Keshi however insists players of such ilk will only be allowed to sneak in if they prove they are better than the ones currently in the squad.
"To be honest, I don't know much about Otigba but we have a good scouting network that will enable me look at all players eligible to play for Nigeria.
"Everyone who is eligible to play for Nigeria has a chance and I am being totally honest here.
"I will assess their performances at their different clubs and we will take a decision but if these players are not better than those that I already have in the team, then they don't have any chance.
"However, if they show that they are better and can make the team stronger, why not?
"It does not matter if they have played for the Super Eagles previously or not.
"I recall that before the 1994 Fifa World Cup, players like Michael Emenalo and Chidi Nwanu did not kick a ball in (the qualifying tournament.)
"They also did not play at the Nations Cup earlier that year but when they showed the coaches what they could do, they came in.
"I have not selected my team for the World Cup. No one has a guaranteed shirt and we will keep working until we know the 23 players that will go to Brazil," he said.
Keshi who won 64 caps and scored nine goals for Nigeria as a player, replaced Samson Siasia as Super Eagles coach in 2011 and has yet to lose a competitive game to African opposition.