LAGOS, Nov 8 (Reuters) - Newcastle United striker Shola Ameobi has been invited to play for Nigeria in a friendly soccer international against Venezuela in Miami next week, officials said.
The call-up puts Ameobi in line to play at the upcoming African Nations Cup finals, which would mean missing matches in January and possibly February for his club who are already losing midfielder Cheik Tiote to the continental championship in South Africa.
“This is a big chance for Shola to fight for a place alongside other strikers hoping to be in South Africa,” Nigeria coach Stephen Keshi said in a BBC interview.
Ameobi is a former England under-21 international but last year was granted FIFA permission to change his international allegiance.
The high-profile switch came as Nigeria missed out on a place at the 2012 Nations Cup finals. When Keshi took over as coach, Nigeria lost interest in Ameobi.
The 31-year-old now gets a chance for an international debut after a change of heart from the coach who is turning to overseas-based talent to beef up the squad for the Nations Cup finals.
“He brings something special, a different dimension to the team,” Keshi said of Ameobi.
The coach also called up teenager Ogenyi Onazi from Italian club Lazio for a possible debut and recalled Obafemi Martins of Levante. (Writing by Mark Gleeson in Cape Town)