NEWCASTLE United face losing a striker to the African Cup of Nations after all.
Manager Alan Pardew breathed a sigh of relief after Senegal – and Demba Ba and Papiss Demba Cisse – failed to qualify for next year’s finals.
Cheik Tiote’s Ivory Coast qualified at their expense.
The second leg of their play-off was abandoned after Tiote’s Ivory Coast took a 6-2 aggregate lead. Rioting fans stopped the game, but the result is expected to stand.
However, Nigeria’s head coach, Stephen Keshi, says he is considering selecting Shola Ameobi for January’s tournament.
Ameobi – who represented England at Under-21 level – has never played for the country of his birth, though a call-up has been mooted for years. “Shola’s a good striker, and he has a chance to be on the plane to South Africa,” said Keshi. “I’ve been watching him closely, and he’s got something unique.
“He will definitely bring something different to the attack. I have Shola and (Everton’s) Victor Anichebe in my striking plans.”
Meanwhile, another of Pardew’s strikers, Nile Ranger, yesterday avoided jail after being convicted of two counts of assault after two policemen.
The 21-year-old – who was cleared of two counts of actual bodily harm relating to an incident in August last year – was given a 12-month conditional discharge and ordered to pay each officer £750.