West Bromwich Albion striker, Osaze Odemwingie, a sweetheart of Nigerian football back in the day, was excluded from the Super Eagles team for the African Cup of Nations, AFCON 2013, because, as it was revealed, of the two demands he asked from team handlers.
The former Nigerian player of the year suggested that he [Odemwingie] would shuttle between South Africa and England during the tournament, a top official of the Nigerian Football Federation says. While the AFCON is taking place in South Africa, the source said Osaze wanted to be able to play for both his club and country during the period of the tournament by travelling from one place to the other depending on the schedule.
The official, who preferred anonymity so as not to be dragged into a war of words with Osaze and the technical crew, said that Osaze was initially on Coach Keshi’s list for the competition. He said Osaze gave Keshi two conditions for playing for Nigeria during the AFCON tournament.
"The player said his wife is due for delivery on January 9, and would love to be with her when she gives birth," the source said.
While the AFCON will take place in South Africa between January 19 and February 10, all invited players are expected to have resumed camp by the first week of January.
The second reason was the player’s insistence that he wanted to shuttle between South Africa and England because he has club commitments, according to the source.
Osaze is a vital player for his club who has an ambition to qualify for Europe in the English Premier League.
The official said Keshi refused and instead decided to omit Odemwingie from AFCON 2013. Keshi said he wants full control of the players during the AFCON games.
Keshi Osaze’s suggestion to shuttle between London and South Africa is not new to Nigerian football. The player was probably just trying to emulate his coach, Keshi. During the AFCON in Morocco in 1988, under the leadership of Paul Hamilton, Keshi played only two of five games for Nigeria. Keshi, one of the very few Nigerian players plying their trade in Europe then, shuttled between his Belgian club and Morocco during the competition due to his club commitments.
An angry Osaze, perhaps feeling angry the coach would not allow him enjoy what Keshi, as a player, enjoyed, took to twitter to react to his exclusion from the Eagles for AFCON 2013.
In several tweets on Sunday, Osaze expressed surprise at his exclusion and blasted both Keshi and the NFF: "Keshi has no footballing reasons not to invite me but is not saying the truth. He is still in my plans he said haha coach u no dey my plans."
Efforts to get Keshi to react to this new information were unsuccessful as his phone was switched off. The gaffer had, however, said earlier that Osaze was simply not in his plans for the competition; and, like other dropped players, would not be missed. Other senior officials of the NFF also appealed not to be quoted as they would not want to be dragged into the war of words between Osaze and the football federation.