The Super Eagles will depart for Faro, Portugal on Thursday to begin the final phase of the team’s camp training for the African Nations Cup, with Head Coach Stephen Keshi hinting that one of his high-profile players has a contract clause that may exclude him from the championship.
Mr. Keshi, who was speaking at a media parley preceding the team’s departure, said that in a conversation with Shola Ameobi on Christmas day, the Newcastle striker told him that there is a clause in the contract he signed with the club two years ago to the effect that he cannot go to the Nations Cup without the Manager’s permission.
“And to make matters worse Newcastle fears that Demba Ba will be leaving the club by the January window and they need a strong strike force and with Ameobi being their most experienced player in that area, there is a possibility we may not have him for the African Nations Cup. But he has said he will talk to me on [the night of] Boxing Day, and after that I will let Nigerians know what the position is, because he wants to thrash out the issue with his Manager, Alan Pardew”.
It is unclear if that provision in Ameobi’s contract is valid, as it seems to violate a FIFA rule whereby clubs are legally-bound to release players invited by their national associations for approved tournaments.
The Super Eagles will have their last training session at the Abuja National Stadium training pitch on Thursday morning before departing for Faro through Accra, Ghana. Those players who will not be making the trip to Portugal will be decamped on the same day.
Keshi took time off to pay homage to the determination and commitment of the home-based internationals during training. “It’s a shame that we can’t take all of them to Faro, but what they have done here shows that they are true professionals and I know when we return they will be part of the set up for the next round of qualifiers in the national team”.
They will be joined in Portugal by players invited from other leagues.