Eagles give Shola Ameobi, Obafemi Martins chance to shine

 Obafemi Martins - Back in contention Captaincy | AFCON warm-ups

Obafemi Martins – Back in contention Captaincy | AFCON warm-ups

Shola Ameobi and Obafemi Martins could be on the flight to next year’s AFCON on the back of a good outing against Venezuela on Wednesday.

Ameobi will be making his debut for the Eagles, while Martins is set for his 38th appearance.

The 31-year-old Ameobi has opted to feature for his country of birth after he represented England at U21 level.

The Newcastle United striker said it is a great honour to wear the Nigeria green and white shirt.

“This is the first opportunity to do something that I’ve always wanted to do. It’s a great honour and I don’t take it lightly,” said the zaria-born striker.

“You’d be a fool if you didn’t want to play at the very highest level and certainly I’m no fool. I want to play at the top as every other player does – that’s what drives me and that’s why I’m still here wanting to play in the Premier League.

“I want to do the best I can, I don’t just want to be a local hero, I want to be an international one. That’s what has driven the decision.”

Keshi is shopping for a big front man and so Ameobi fits the bill perfectly.

Martins, on the other hand, has already scored 17 goals for his country after he made his debut in 2003.

He has been given a second chance by coach Stephen Keshi to prove he still has goals in his boots after a series of injuries and a rather difficult time at Russian club Rubin Kazan.

‘Obagoal’ was once rated as the most lethal Nigeria striker and he has averaged a goal every other game for the Eagles.

His recent form at new Spanish La Liga outfit Levante has now earned him a deserved recall and a good outing against the South Americans would further enhance his chances of being on the party to South Africa next year.

Keshi also plans to run the rule on several other players like Dynamo Kiev striker Brown Ideye, midfielder Raheem Lawal as well as Lazio youngster Ogenyi Onazi in this game.

“I hope I could start this game,” Onazi told MTNFootball.com

“We are ready for the match and Nigerians should expect nothing but a good result.”

The former U17 and U20 international was a late substitute in last month’s Nations Cup qualifier against Liberia in Calabar.

The Eagles have suffered three major withdrawals after Chelsea stars Mikel Obi and Victor Moses as well as Rennes defender pulled out.

Venezuela have also been forced to make several late changes following injury to several of their Europe-based stars.

Nigeria lead on the head-to-head count having beaten the South Americans 1-0 in 2002 in a friendly in London, but Venezuela have enjoyed remarkable progress in the last one year.

They reached the last four of the 2011 Copa America in Argentina and are fourth in the standings for the 2014 World Cup qualifiers in South America.

They are 48th in the FIFA Ranking, nine places above Nigeria.

By MTNFootball.com

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