Nigeria's preparation looks to start in earnest when the Super Eagles take on the El Tri of Mexico in Miami on March 5 in an international friendly. This will be the first in a series of warm up matches lined up for the 2013 African Coach of the Year, preparatory to the World Cup which kicks off in June.
The 'Big Boss' has released a 23 man team that will prosecute the Mexico friendly as he takes a look at how far his team has come from winning the Africa Cup of Nations last year, getting over the line to qualify for the football fiesta and also looking ahead to Brazil 2014.
The usual suspects are back in the mix, but there are also new legs who have been given an opportunity to stake a claim to be included in the Brazil bound party, if they can impress at the Georgia Dome in Atlanta on March 5.
Joseph Yobo's recall was the major talking point of Keshi's list, as the new Norwich City defender had been ostracized from the squad since the Nations Cup triumph, but he now has a chance to show he is still relevant, so do the three players who were handed their first call ups at full international level.
Supersport.com takes a look at these players who have been handed their maiden invitation to the Super Eagles and what they might bring to the set up as well as their strengths and capabilities as Keshi continues to tinker his team for the World Cup.
Ramon Olamilekan Azeez
Club: UD Almeria (Spain)
Azeez gets hugs © Action Images
Ramon Azeez is a product of the Nigerian youth teams as he was ever present in Nigeria's silver medal winning team at the Fifa Under-17 World held in Nigeria in 2009. Azeez also captained the John Obuh tutored Flying Eagles to the 2011 Fifa Under 20 Word Youth Championship in Colombia.
The diminutive midfielder rose through the ranks at Almeria and 2014 couldn't have come at a better time as he has established himself in the heart of the Spanish club's midfield, churning out impressive displays as Almeria made the leap into La Liga after gaining promotion this season.
Azeez is comfortable as a defensive midfielder who sits just in front of the back four, or as an attacking midfielder who knows how to crank a pass or two as he showed with the Nigerian youth teams.
His versatility will definitely come in handy for Keshi coup;ed with his high work rate as his stats from this season shows.
It is pertinent to say John Mikel Obi and Ogenyi Onazi have been Keshi's mainstay in the midfield, but given the coach loves to gauge a triad in midfield in his preferred 4-3-3 formation, Azeez might sneak in into the remaining slot.
The former Future Pro Academy starlet's addition to the squad means competition will b stiff in the midfield for the likes of Fegor Ogude, John Ogu, Gabriel Reuben and Nosa Igiebor who has just recovered from injury and has started playing again at Spanish side Real Betis.
Michael Okechukwu Uchebo
Club: Cercle Brugge (Belgium)
Uchebo goes hunting © Reuters
Michael Uchebo, like Azeez is also a product of the Nigerian youth teams as he has played for the Flying Eagles in 2009 as well as being,a former Under-23 international.
The 6'4 striker started out at Enugu Rangers in Nigeria before he moved to the Dutch Eredivisie in 2010/2011 season where he teamed up with VVV Venlo before he switched to his current club in
Belgium last season.
Uchebo, who had trials with Barclays Premier League side Stoke City in 2012, is a tall target man, whose physical presence can be a source of worry for a lot of defenders. His height and technique can be an added plus for the Super Eagles if Keshi decides to go through another route, attacking wise.
The former UNTH of Enugu has not had the best of seasons in Belgium as he has been used on the right side of the midfield on many occasions, but with only Shola Ameobi as the big man upfront, Keshi might decide to take a look at Uchebo who is a good header of the ball and can hold up play decently.
This are early days and It's quite evident it will be chop and change for the Super Eagles handler as nothing is assured yet, but Uchebo looks a veritable option, depending on Keshi's tactics and deployment of his attacking personnel.
Club: Standard Liege (Belgium)
Ezekiel just thumped one in © Reuters
Imoh Ezekiel has been on the radar of national team selectors for some time now after his breakout season at Standard Liege in 2012 while on loan from Lagos based outfit 36 Lions.
Former Flying Eagles coach John Obuh tried to cap him prior to the World Youth Championship in 2013 amids claims he was also approached by the Belgian Federation to switch nationalities.
Ezekiel is a highly rated rated striker whose all action style is likened to Seattle Sounders striker Obafemi Martins and its for good measure too. Very quick on the turn and with lightning pace, he has been able to chalk up 9 goals in 25 matches in the Belgian Jupiler Liga this season.
He is a versatile attacker who can play off the main striker or from the right side of attack, as he has done all season alongside his strike partner at Standard Mitchy Batshuayi. Ezekiel has a good first touch and will be a decent addition to the squad given Nigeria's attacking deficiency recently.
Emmanuel Emenike is undoubtedly Nigeria's number one striker at the moment, getting him a decent support cast will bear in Keshi's mind even as red hot Ikechukwu Uche has continued to be lurched in the international wilderness.
Nigeria's attack was her main undoing at the Confederations Cup and the 'Big Boss' might be looking to juggle his attack with a few more options, while hoping the likes of Brown Ideye, Victor Moses and Ahmed Musa will regain their form before the tournament starts. After all, the more the merrier they say.
culled from my article for supersport.com