Lagos - Nigeria will leave Newcastle United striker Shola Ameobi and Millwall defender Danny Shittu out of their African Nations Cup squad, saying the pair are not interested in playing in this month's competition.
The English-based duo were named in a preliminary squad for the tournament in South Africa but officials said on Monday that neither player would be selected in the final 23-strong party due to be named by coach Stephen Keshi on Wednesday.
“The player did not get in touch with us,” Nigeria spokesman Ben Alaiya said of Ameobi while Shittu's written request to be allowed to continue playing for second tier Millwall has now been agreed by the national team.
Ameobi won his first cap for Nigeria in November after the England under-23 player requested a switch in international allegiances.
When the striker was selected last month in a preliminary list for the Nations Cup, Newcastle manager Alan Pardew said he would not allow Ameobi to go to South Africa.
Keshi then threatened to force Premier League Newcastle to release the player in line with the rules of world soccer's governing body FIFA but Nigeria have now decided to avoid a club v country dispute.
Nigeria also cut Kilmarnock's new signing Rabiu Ibrahim and Turkish-based midfielder Uche Kalu from their preliminary squad on Monday.
The Nations Cup starts on January 19. – Reuters