With many calls for the duo to be in the World Cup squad, the former international has called on pundits and stakeholders to revere the Super Eagles gaffer’s verdict
Former Nigeria international Dimeji Lawal has asked fans and analysts to respect head coach Stephen Keshi’s decision to leave any top player out of his squad for the World Cup.
Keshi has come under intense pressure to include veteran Stoke City forward Osaze Odemwingie and Villarreal hitman Ikechukwu Uche in his squad for the summer’s tournament in Brazil.
The former winger who though seeks the inclusion of Ike Uche in the squad expressed dissatisfaction over the increased criticism and believes the decision of the coach should respected as no player should be forced on the national team gaffer who should be given free rein to select his squad.
“I’m in support of whatever decision Keshi takes in his selection for the World Cup,” Lawal told the Daily Trust.
“I was looking up to Uche to step into the late Rashidi Yekini’s shoes because of his quality. But if the coach says he doesn’t want him in his squad, we have to respect his decision. He must have his reasons for not wanting to include him and Osaze in his World Cup plans.
“Personally, I want them to be in Brazil but I don’t know what is going on behind the scenes, because what you see on television or on the pitch is different from what is going on in camp.
"Osaze has always been a good player but I’m surprised nobody is talking about his attitude issues.
“There are players whose presence throws a team into disarray and every coach wants to avoid problems in his team. Keshi is in charge of the team and he takes responsibility for team’s failure and credit for success,” the member of Saudi ’89 FIFA Under-20 World Cup silver medallist said.
“He should be allowed to pick those he believes will perform in Brazil so that he will not have any excuse if we don’t do well in the competition.”
The former forward thinks Nigeria could miss Ike Uche’s “goals and versatility” in Brazil but insists the strikers for the tournament will rise to the challenge.
“Ike Uche has scored more goals [for his club] than any of our strikers in the season but it is not enough to force him on Keshi. The Super Eagles qualified for the World Cup without Uche and Osaze. And they got good results from their friendly matches without them,” he said.
In the same vein, the ex-Shooting Stars player has dismissed fears that the lack of playing time for the likes of Elderson Echiejile, Victor Moses and Mikel Obi in their clubs could cost the country at the World Cup, stressing that there will be nothing to worry about.
“There’s no way it won’t affect the players but I think they will play well in Brazil.
“You can’t compare a player who is playing regularly for Hull City or Stoke City with the one playing from the bench at Liverpool or Chelsea. The standard is different.
“Ashely Cole is not playing regularly for Chelsea but he is still being invited to play for England. [Nicklas] Bendtner has not been playing for Arsenal but it doesn’t stop him from playing for [Denmark].”