Super Eagles Chief Scout Tunde Adelakun has highlighted some of the challenges the country faces when it comes to getting players of Nigerian descent to dedicate their full international futures to Nigeria.
In an exclusive interview with AOIFootball.com, Mr. Tunde, who also serves as the NFF’s assistant coach, stated that the association still has an abundance of talent around the world just waiting to be discovered.
“The job wasn’t difficult at all. I think the only difficulty is the pretty good problem we always have – having to choose from a plethora of good performers in the different leagues.
“That’s a good problem, although it has its pitfalls, but we try not to think it over,” argued Tunde.
After Tunde and his scouting team have already secured the international future of German-born defender Kevin Apoguma, they now have a big task in their hands, bringing the duo Michel Olise and Eberechi Eze home that fans think should always happen.
“Changing nationalities is very complicated. A player born in a country may have evolved from the country he was born in to get to a point where he or she is being courted by one or two nations. It will always be difficult.
“For example, some of them only know Great Britain as home. Because that’s where they grew up. So you need to be gently persuaded to jump the ship. It gets more complicated when you have played at an age group for the European country of birth.
“You must write a letter clearly stating that you want to come to play for Nigeria and that by writing this letter you have given up your right to ever play for your country of birth.
“It can be very scary for a young player. But they do. Then they have to prove their Nigerian citizenship. By having their own passport or at least having a valid Nigerian passport for one of their parents. This proof of citizenship is key, ”Tunde continued.
He also went on to say that the hardest part of the process also has to do with the other nation’s FA, giving a no-objection review that sometimes slows the whole process down and can even drag on forever.
“We must also ask the national federation (England and the home countries if the player is from the UK) to provide the NFF with a notice of appeal for the player’s release. Sometimes this is difficult as the said FA may still feel that they could potentially use the player’s services in the future.
“If we get the unqualified confirmation, we can put everything together in one package and submit it to FIFA for approval,” concluded Mr Tunde.
The NFF has lured dual citizenship players to represent Nigeria in the past, including Victor Moses, Alex Iwobi, Ola Aina, Josh Maja and most recently Ovie Ejaria, to switch allegiances.
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It’s now also reflected in the Super Falcons, in which Megan Ashleigh from Leicester City and Mowaninuola Dada from Watford join the team in their Austria camp.