The Nigerian Football Federation are planning for the future by tempting a number of promising young players to represent them.
Ranked 5th in the FIFA World Rankings in 1994, the highest FIFA ranking ever achieved by an African football team, the Nigerian National team was once the best in Africa.
But stars such as Nwankwo Kanu, Jay-Jay Okocha, Finidi George and Daniel Amokachi are now long in the memory and The Super Eagles have only qualified for two of the last three African Nations Championship.
There has been success at youth level…… Nigeria have appeared in four of the last five FIFA Under-17’s World Cup, winning three of them.
Three of the players to win the Under-17’s World Cup have won the Golden Ball for most valuable player and two have won the Golden Shoe.
It now seems that the Nigerian Football Federation are putting plans in to place to move up the FIFA Rankings with President Amaju Pinnick looking to take advantage of the English football system and persuading a number of talented players with dual nationality to represent them.
Chuba Akpom, Ola Aina and rumours of Chelsea Wonderkid Tammy Abraham all have dual nationality and look to have selected Nigeria over England, although Abraham has been selected for England Under-21’s this week.
In a recent training camp in Barnet a number of young “English” players were invited to train with The Super Eagles.
Eberechi Eze of Queens Park Rangers, Josh Maja of Sunderland, Fred Onyedinma of Millwall and Joe Aribo of Charlton were in training and have not fully decided yet, but are understood to be leaning towards playing for Nigeria.
These players added to Arsenal’s Alex Iwobi, Wilfred Ndidi of Leicester City and Man City forward
Kelechi Iheanacho and the future is looking bright.
Long Term Plan
The Nigerian Football Federation are already planing for the 2019 Under-17’s World Cup and are looking to secure a number of young talents, as well as setting up an Under-15’s program.
Its not just English players that are being looked at, 13-year-old Feyenoord wonderkid Lateef Omidiji jr has personally been contacted by vice president Seyi Akinwunmi.
Talking to football-wonderkids, Omidiji told us “the president and vice president Seyi Akinwunmi are doing a lot to make me feel like a part of the future of the country’s football.”
The young forward is currently a member of the United States Under-14’s.
Niyi Scholten of Ajax is another possible player who could be contacted.
How Else is Possible
There are a number of players with dual nationality that have yet to represent England who President Amaju Pinnick could tempt to play for Nigeria. Below is a list of the best players that could represent Nigeria.
|Ademola Lookman||Everton||Right Winger|
|Jordon Ibe||Bournmouth||Left Winger|
|Dominic Iorfa||Wolves||Right Back|
|Sheyi Ojo||Liverpool||Left Winger|
|Tosin Adarabioyo||Man City||Centre Back|
|Emmanuel Idem||Aston Villa||Keeper|
|Tom Dele-Bashiru||Man City||Midfielder|
|Bobby Adekanye||Liverpool||Right Winger|
|Henri Ogunby||Man City||Midfielder|
|Moroyin Omolabi||Tottenham||Centre Back|
|Nathaniel Ogbeta||Man City||Centre Back|
|Moses Odubajo||Hull City||Right Back|
|Jordan Obita||Reading||Left Back|
It Not All About Dual Nationality
As mentioned above Nigeria have been very successful at the Under-17’s World Cup. Some stars have gone one to play for the full national team……. but some hae not.
Here is a round up of what happend after the wins.
2007 – Winners
Macauley Chrisantus – Top goalscorer with seven goals and winner of the Silver Ball. Moved to Germany with Hamburg following the tournament but was sold to Las Palmas . Moved to Greece after two successful years in Spain before returning to 2nd division Reus.
Rabiu Ibrahim – Dubbed “the new Jay-Jay Okocha”, Ibrahim made his international debut in 2015 after being called up as a 16-year-old. Career is back on track in Belgium with Gent after spells at PSV, Celtic, Kilmarnock and Slovak side AS Trenčín.
Lukman Haruna – Played 43 times for Monaco before moving to Dynamo Kyiv. Has 8 full caps for Nigeria and possibly has had the best career from the squad.
2009 – runners-up
Ogenyi Onazi – was 16-years-old at the finals. Secured a move to Lazio and has represented the senior international side 38 time. Currently with Trabzonspor in Turkey following a €3.5 million move in 2016.
Kenneth Omeruo – Defender Omeruo moved to Standard Liege youth team following the finals. From there he joined Chelsea in 2012 but is yet to make a first team apperance and is now part of Chelsea’s ‘Loan Army.’
Stanley Okoro – Signed for Almería and played 50 times for their B team and playing one match for the full Nigerian side.
Sani Emmanuel – The 2009 Golden Ball winner. Reported that Sani had trials at Chelsea and Tottenham before signing for Lazio. The move didn’t work out and he is now playing in Sweden with Oskarshamns AIK.
2013 – Winners
A very talented team that has seen a number of players move to big clubs in Europe and represent the full Nigeria team.
The standout player being Manchester City wonderkid Iheanacho but it is too early to say who has failed and who has not.
Other players from the squad to move are Dele Alampasu (Cesarense), Kelechi Iheanacho (Man City), Success Isaac (Watford), Musa Yahaya (Tottenham), Chidiebere Nwakali (Man City), Habib Makanjuola (Chelsea), Chidera Ezeh (Porto) and Taiwo Awoniyi (Liverpool).
2015 – Winners
Samuel Chukwueze – Linked with a move to Arsenal but now looks set to join Portuguese side FC Porto when he turns 18.
Victor Osimhen – Signed for Wolfsburg and made his debut first team debut for them and Nigeria in 2017.
Kelechi Nwakali – Signed for Arsenal and spent the 2016-17 season on loan at Dutch side MVV. Reported that he is not happy returning to Arsenal to not play.
Orji Okwonkwo – the young forward joined Italian side Bologna, where he played 6 games in his debut season.
Added to these stars are current internationals Tyronne Ebuehi (21), Chidozie Awaziem (20), Wilfred Ndidi (20), Ahmed Musa (24), Moses Simon (21), Alex Iwobi (21), Henry Onyekuru (20) and Victor Moses (26).
If the plan works and Nigeria have a host of young talent to choose from which could make for some very exciting games ahead.