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Nov 8, 2012

Ameobi gets Nigeria call-up

Newcastle striker Shola Ameobi has been called up to the Nigeria squad for the friendly against Venezuela in Miami on November 14.

Ameobi, 31, was born in Zaria, Nigeria and had previously represented England at youth level, but confirmed his intention to play for the Super Eagles in 2009.

"It was a great honour for me to represent England at Under-21 level and my mum and dad were so proud of me," he said.

"But they would love to see me play for Nigeria. I see myself as Nigerian; I was born and bred there."

Coach Stephen Keshi has decided to give Ameobi the opportunity to play himself into his 2013 African Cup of Nations squad after previously stating he felt the Newcastle striker brings something different to Nigeria's attack.

"This is a big chance for Shola to fight for a place alongside other strikers hoping to be in South Africa," Keshi told BBC Sport.

"Like I said after the game against Liberia last month, he brings something special, a different dimension to the team.

"This friendly is an opportunity for some players who have not featured in our recent games to show what they can do."

Should Ameobi earn a place at the finals in South Africa, it would mean Newcastle missing games in January and perhaps February when they will already be without Ivory Coast midfielder Cheik Tiote.

Former Newcastle striker Obafemi Martins, currently at Spanish club Levante, has also been recalled, while Lazio teenager Ogenyi Onazi could also make his senior international debut.

Keshi is also hoping to confirm the inclusion of Bayer Leverkusen's Sidney Sam, after revealing the winger has already expressed his desire to represent Nigeria.

"He's keen to join up with us, so we will wait and see how he responds when we open camp for the Nations Cup," Keshi said.

"I have spoken to him and he sounded very enthusiastic to be part of the setting".

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