Qatar 2022: Stars Of Nigerian Descent Set To Shine At The World Cup
The 2022 World Cup taking place in Qatar will have several Nigerian names on parade at the Mundial in other competing nations as Nigeria’s flag will not be hoisted in the Asian country.
The Nigeria soccer fans were hoping for an appearance at the FIFA World Cup in Qatar but unfortunately, the Super Eagles drew the Black Stars of Ghana in the first leg of the last qualifier match at the Baba Yara Sports Stadium, Kumasi.
However, Nigerians can take consolation in the fact that several players of Nigerian descent will be on parade when the Mundial begins.
With time and good performance, these stars will become megabrands in the sporting world.
Bukayo Saka (The Three Lions of England)
Bukayo Saka, a 21-year-old, who was born in London to Nigerian parents will be counted on to play for the Three Lions of England to better their semi-final feat. Although he was eligible to play for the Super Eagles he chose the Three Lions instead.
Manuel Akanji (Switzerland)
Manuel Akanji is another player with Nigerian roots that will be parading in Qatar. He will be flying the flag of Switzerland. The 27-year-old was born in Neftenbach, Switzerland, to a Nigerian father and a Swiss mother, but has chosen to represent the Red Crosses.
He is a Manchester City defender who is not a stranger to the world’s biggest football competition as he was in Russia four years ago. He has represented the European country 42 times. Akanji was heavily touted to represent Nigeria before pitching his tent with the country of his birth.
Noah Okafor (Switzerland)
Noah is another Nigerian descent who will be representing the Swiss national team at the World Cup. He was born to a Nigerian father and a Swiss mother just like Akanji. The Binningen-born 22-year-old forward represented Switzerland at every youth level before making his senior debut in 2019.
We have Germany which is another country that would be parading two players of Nigerian descent named Jamal Musiala and Karim Adeyemi.
Musiala Jamal (Germany)
Musiala was born to a British-Nigerian father in Stuttgart and has a German mother. He moved to England at seven and has featured for the English U-17 side but also decided to play for his mother’s nation at the senior level instead of Nigeria.
One-time Nigeria manager, Gernot Rohr had attempted to convince the 19-year-old to play for the Super Eagles in 2020, but Musiala turned down his offer, choosing the Mannschaft instead. He made his debut for the Europeans in March 2021 and has since then played 16 more games for the side with one goal to his credit. Hansi Flick will be banking on the youth sensation to help the Germans win their first World Cup after 2014.
Adeyemi, a 20-year-old player will fielding the Germany team after Flick listed him in the squad for the quadrennial competition. Adeyemi was born to a Nigerian father and a Romanian mother in the German city of Munich. Having played for the European nation at all age-grade levels, he made his senior team debut in a World Cup qualification against Armenia on September 5, 2021.
Two players with Nigerian roots- Ike Ugbo and Samuel Adekugbe cut the Canadian national team.
Ike Ugbo (Canada)
Ugbo who plays for Ligue 1 team Troyes was born in London to Nigerian parents but the family moved to Canada when he was around five. The 24-year-old forward was eligible to represent the three nations, but he committed his future to Canada. The former Chelsea youth player then made his debut for the North Americans in a 2022 World Cup qualifier against Costa Rica on November 12. Overall, he has played eight times for the Reds since then.
Samuel Adekugbe (Canada)
Adekugbe was born in England to Nigerian parents and the 27-year-old defender’s family later moved to Canada the player who features for Turkish Super Lig club Hatayspor is on the plane to the Middle East nation hoping to make an impact with Canada.
One legacy to be recognized from the immediate past President of the Nigeria Football Federation, NFF, Amaju Pinnick was having successfully wooed players of Nigerian descent to star for the Super Eagles despite having played for their countries of birth at the junior cadre and the list is endless from Victor Moses to Leon Balogun to Henry
Onyekuru to Sheyi Ojo, and most recently Lookman, to mention but a few.
Yet, there are still many more potential players the NFF ‘VIP Scouting’ could still woo. Crystal Palace duo of Ebere Eze and Michael Olise could still be convinced to opt to play for Nigeria. Arnaut Danjuma of Villarreal, Destiny Udogie of Udinese, Arsenal’s Ethan Nwaneri, Michael Folorunsho of Bari, and Hamburger SV’s Jonas David are all still eligible to star for Nigeria.
The former NFF boss had reiterated severally that youngsters of Nigerian origin who are doing well in England and other leagues will wear the Nigerian colours at the appropriate time.