Super Eagles

Hope for foreign-born Nigerian talents as Finidi George keeps Super Eagles door open

In international football, the trend of players with Nigerian heritage representing other nations has been prominent, with names like Jamal Musiala, Fikayo Tomori, Bukayo Saka, and Michael Folorunsho opting for different national teams. Meanwhile, others like Efe Sodje, Ola Aina, and Ademola Lookman have chosen to don the green and white of Nigeria, returning to their roots to play for the Super Eagles.

However, the issue remains that many of these talents view playing for Nigeria as a secondary option rather than a first choice. Players such as Joshua Zirkzee and Michael Olise are still awaiting call-ups from other countries, while the Luton Town duo Elijah Adebayo and Gabriel Osho have expressed willingness to represent Nigeria.

With the appointment of Finidi George as the new head coach of the Super Eagles, there is renewed hope for a resurgence of Nigerian football. The three-time Dutch Eredivisie winner has set his sights on restoring Nigeria to its former glory, starting with the upcoming World Cup qualifiers against South Africa next month.

At a recent media parlay held at Eko Hotel and Suites, Finidi laid out his plans for the national team. Addressing questions about the potential inclusion of foreign-born players, he said that the team for the upcoming qualifiers will primarily consist of players who secured a silver medal at the AFCON 2023 tournament in Ivory Coast.

“Following the brilliant display of our team at AFCON, we’ll be building on that,” Finidi stated. “Most of our players will be from the last tournament as well. We don’t want to change too much so they don’t disintegrate as a unit. We saw the unity from them in Ivory Coast, and we want that to continue. We will have about two to three new faces. Now is not the time to gamble.”

While Finidi is cautious about making significant changes ahead of crucial qualifiers, he remains open to including foreign-born players in the future, provided they meet the team’s standards. “If they’re good enough, why not? Although these things are not easy. It’s not like you’ll just see a player you like and tell him to come and play for Nigeria,” he explained. “For the most part, what I can do is keep on watching the games, and if I see a good player with Nigerian roots, then we can start discussing.”

Finidi highlighted the complexity of the process, noting that it involves coordination with the Nigeria Football Federation (NFF). “We have people at the NFF for that. We will work together as a team, talk to these players, and see if they’re willing. Primarily, I have to work with what I have to achieve our goal,” he added.

Several players currently eligible to represent Nigeria could be considered for future call-ups, including Fulham’s Tosin Adarabioyo, Chelsea’s Lesley Ugochukwu, Werder Bremen’s Justin Njinmah, and Bournemouth’s Dominic Solanke. Their inclusion would depend on their performance and willingness to commit to the national team.

As the Super Eagles prepare for their World Cup qualifiers, the focus will be on maintaining the unity and cohesion that brought success at the AFCON, while keeping an eye on potential talents who could strengthen the squad in the long run.

You can see list of invited players here: Super Eagles stars Lookman, Osimhen, Okoye, 20 others Invited for South Africa/Benin Republic games

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