NIGERIA: Former Newcastle United striker Shola Ameobi has been included in Nigeria’s final 23-man squad for the finals.

Ameobi, who is pondering a move to Australia side Sydney FC following his release from St James’ Park at the end of last season, will hope to make his World Cup debut after surviving head coach Stephen Keshi’s final cull.

The 32-year-old represented England at Under-21 level, but switched his international allegiance to Nigeria, the land of his birth, in 2011.

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He made his debut in November 2012 against Venezuela, and now boasts six senior caps for the Nigerian side.

Ameobi is joined in the Nigerian squad by defender Kenneth Omeruo, who spent the majority of last season on loan at Middlesbrough from Chelsea.

Joseph Yobo, John Obi Mikel and Victor Moses have also been selected, with Nigeria facing Argentina, Iran and Bosnia in Group F.


ITV: Not the first time, former Sunderland manager Roy Keane has turned his back on the World Cup finals after pulling out of his punditry duties with ITV.

Keane, who famously left the Republic of Ireland squad at the 2002 World Cup after a bust-up with Mick McCarthy, informed ITV officials that he felt unable to commit to their proposed schedule because of his coaching commitments.

The former Black Cats boss is currently Martin O’Neill’s assistant in the Irish set-up, and is keen to concentrate on his coaching duties over the next few weeks.

He recently withdrew from the race to be the next Celtic boss amid mounting speculation that he is set to be appointed as Paul Lambert’s number two at Aston Villa.


COLOMBIA: The South American nation’s World Cup hopes have been dealt a considerable blow after star striker Radamel Falcao was ruled out of the tournament.

The Monaco forward sustained anterior cruciate ligament damage in January, but had been hoping to recover in time to be involved in Brazil.

However, head coach Jose Pekerman finally admitted defeat when he omitted Falcao from Colombia’s 23-man squad.

Porto’s Jackson Martinez is likely to lead the line in Falcao’s absence, although Sevilla’s Carlos Bacca and River Plate’s Teofilo Gutierrez are other options.


COSTA RICA: Costa Rica’s preparations suffered a blow yesterday as they slipped to a 3-1 defeat to Japan in their penultimate warm-up game in Florida.

England’s final Group D opponents took the lead when former Fulham forward Bryan Ruiz outpaced Japan defender Yasuyuki Konno to turn the ball home.

However, Japan struck back with three second-half goals from Yasuhito Endo, Yoichiro Kakitani and Manchester United midfielder Shinji Kagawa.

Costa Rica play their final friendly against the Republic of Ireland in Philadelphia on Friday, while Japan face Zambia before travelling to Brazil.