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Stephen Keshi defends MLS despite Obafemi Martins World Cup snub

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Nigeria head coach Stephen Keshi has dismissed the notion that Obafemi Martins' exclusion from his World Cup squad was due to a move to Major League Soccer.

Martins joined the Seattle Sounders FC last summer and has only featured once for his country since, but Keshi denied that this was a factor in his continued absence from the international stage.

Speaking after his team's 0-0 draw with Greece in a warm-up friendly at the Philadelphia Union's PPL Park, he said:

"I live in the United States, so I know a little bit about the league. It’s a good league. I don’t think there’s any problem for a Nigerian player to play in Major League Soccer."

The 29-year-old was part of the Super Eagles' squad for the last World Cup, but despite managing six goals and six assists in the opening 14 games of this season, Keshi had little comment to make on his individual performance.

One player who was discussed was Toronto FC man Bright Dike, who the Nigeria boss confirmed would have been involved but for injury.

The American-born forward - a cousin of Emmanuel Emenike - has only played twice for his country, scoring once, but this has been mainly due to a lack of match fitness.

After making his debut while a Portland Timbers player in 2012, Dike netted in an international friendly against Italy at Craven Cottage in November, and at one stage he was even linked with a loan spell at Celtic in the Scottish Premier League.

However, a ruptured achilles tendon has ruled him out of the World Cup and the entirety of the 2014 season. The 27-year-old may have difficulty regaining his place in his club side, following the signings of Gilberto, Jermain Defoe and Luke Moore in Toronto. He had suffered a similar injury a year previously, which spelled the end of his Timbers career.

One attacker who is in the Nigerian party is veteran Shola Ameobi. Having announced his departure from Newcastle United after 14 years at the club, he is looking for a fresh project and the MLS has been mentioned as a possible destination, where he is reportedly a target for New York City FC.

Sydney FC of the Australian A-League are also being credited with a keen interest, but Ameobi is focusing on the World Cup and will most likely put off talk of his future until after this summer's tournament.

The Super Eagles have a final warm-up friendly against the United States in Jacksonville on Saturday, before facing Iran, Bosnia and Herzegovina, and Argentina in Group F, where they will be looking to avenge their first round exit four years ago.

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Topics:
World Cup
MLS
Obafemi Martins
Football
Seattle Sounders FC

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This article has been written by a member of the GiveMeSport Writing Academy and does not represent the views of GiveMeSport.com or SportsNewMedia. The views and opinions expressed are solely that of the author credited at the top of this article. GiveMeSport.com and SportsNewMedia do not take any responsibility for the content of its contributors.

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