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Anichebe, Osaze can fire eagles – Lawal

Osaze-OdemwingiFormer international Garba Lawal believes the duo of Victor Anichebe and Osaze Odemwingie can fire the Super Eagles to victory over Kenya and help Nigeria qualify for the 2014 World Cup in Brazil.

Nigeria are tied on five points with Malawi in their World Cup qualifying Group F and the Eagles will need all of the cutting edge they can muster in their June 5 make-or-break clash with Kenya, who are rooted to the bottom with two points, in their quest to reach the last round of the qualifiers ahead of the the Malawians.

Coach Stephen Keshi’s hopes of fielding a strong attack with  South Africa 2013 Africa Cup of Nations Golden Boot winner Emmanuel Emenike upfront against Kenya in Nairobi  were dashed as  the Spartak Moscow hitman sustained another injury. He will miss the match  and  the June 12 encounter with Namibia in Windhoek. Emenike missed the 1-1 draw first leg match against Kenya   in Calabar on March 23 due to the injury.

Speaking to our correspondent on the telephone during the week, Atlanta’96 Olympic Games gold medallist Lawal  urged  Keshi to consider the recall of West Brom’s Osaze.

The versatile former Eagles midfielder also advised Keshi to persuade Everton’s  Anichebe to  return to help his fatherland.

Anichebe, who last played for Nigeria in September 2011, announced last week  he was not thinking about  returning  to the Eagles but focus on his club  because the  Premier League side cared for him when he was injured featuring for Nigeria.

Osaze has been  in the international wilderness since he clashed with Keshi after  the Africa Cup of Nations  qualifier against Rwanda last year.

Lawal said, “Osaze and Anichebe are very good players. I would select them for matches If I were in charge of the national team. They are rugged and we need such players against the Harambee Stars who rely more on power during matches. Emenike would’ve given the Kenyans a lot of problems because he  is very  strong and can match their physical game.

“Osaze and Anichebe are highly experienced and have a winning mentality.

“Apart from the game against Kenya, we also need their services in the remaining matches.

“Keshi is the only one who has the right to decide who replaces Emenike  because he is the man in charge of the team. If he feels Anichebe and Osaze are relevant to his plans for the team, he will invite them. If it’s the opposite, I’ll respect his decision.

“If Keshi eventually  settles for Michael Eneramo or Joseph Akpala, I’ll respect his decision.”

The ex-Esperance of Tunisia star, who also plied his trade in Portugal, Holland, Greece and China, criticised  Anichebe for his decision to turn his back on the national team.

Keshi said during the week he would love the player to change his mind and return to the national team.

“I have listed three players as Emenike’s replacement with  Anichebe top on the list. Others are Akpala and Eneramo. But I hear that Anichebe has said he would not be available for selection, which is very sad.

“I have made efforts in the past to speak with him through Yakubu Aiyegbeni, Joseph Yobo and (Dickson) Etuhu but he said he was not ready to play. I will still make effort to reach him, you never can tell, I could be able to convince him to have a change of mind.”

Lawal said, “Anichebe is not the only player who was abandoned by the FA after sustaining an injury while playing for the country. He should come back if he wants to play. Shunning the national team because he was abandoned is no excuse.”


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