NIGERIA’S 2022 World Cup campaign has just received a big boost after global footballing body Fifa cleared eight Nigerians with dual nationality including the dynamic Fulham duo Ademola Lookman and Tosin Adarabioyo to feature for the Super Eagles.
Since taking over as Super Eagles manager in 2016, Coach Gernot Rohr has diligently gone about recruiting second and third generation diasporans. Many of these players have been the subject of rival bids by their countries of birth but Rohr has successfully attracted the likes of Maduka Okoye, Ola Aina, Tyronne Ebuehie, William Ekong, Joe Aribo, Semi Ajayi and Kevin Akpoguma.
Keen to strengthen his squad as Nigeria gets set for the 2021 African Cup of Nations and Qatar 2022 qualifiers, Mr Rohr successfully wooed eight new players. Apart from Lookman and Adarabioyo, they include Jordan Torunarigha of Hertha Berlin, Nathan Tella of Southampton, Ovie Ejaria of Reading, Noni Madueke of PSV, Sheyi Ojo of Cardiff City and Ike Ugbo of Cercle Brugge.
Lookman and Adarabioyo in particular have been sensational this season, establishing themselves as ever-present in the Fulham starting 11 where they feature alongside compatriot Aina. Adarabioyo, a towering centreback, has been the club’s defensive rock, while winger Lookman has dazzled with his mazy runs and goals.
Under Fifa rules, if a player has featured for one team at junior level, he needs to get clearance before being allowed to play for another nation as a senior. All eight players who have played for junior teams in England and Germany are now eligible to represent the Super Eagles.
Next month, Nigeria resumes her African Cup of Nation qualifiers against Lesotho and Benin Republic and several of the new players are expected to feature. Mr Rohr is still waiting for Crystal Palace playmaker Ebere Eze to make up his mind about playing for the Super Eagles, so the Nigerian Football Federation can apply for his clearance to.