Tunde Adelakun, Super Eagles Chief Scout, has revealed some of the challenges facing the country in getting players of Nigerian descent to commit their full International future to Nigeria.
In an exclusive interview with AOIFootball.com, Mr. Tunde, who also doubles as an Assistant Coach to the NFF, stated that the federation still has an abundance of talent spread across the globe just waiting to be scouted.
“The job has not been difficult at all. I think the only difficulty is the rather good problem we always have – having to pick from an abundance of good performers in the various leagues.
“That is a good problem to have, although it has its pitfalls but we try not to overthink it,” Tunde reasoned.
Having already secured the international future of German-born defender Kevin Apoguma, Tunde and his scouting team now have a big task in their hands to bring home the duo of Michel Olise and Eberechi Eze, with the Eagles scout revealing a much bigger problem than what the fans think should always happen.
“Nationality switch is very complicated. A player who was born in a country perhaps has been developed by the country where he or she was born to get to a point where he or she is being courted by one or two nations. It will always be difficult.
“Some of them only know the UK as a home for instance. Because that’s where they grew up. So they need to be softly convinced to jump ship. Makes it more complicated when they have played at one age-grade level for the European country where they were born.
“They need to write a letter unequivocally stating that they want to come to play for Nigeria, and that by writing that letter, they have given up their rights to ever play for their country of birth.
“That can be really scary for a young player. But they do. Then they need to prove their Nigerian citizenship. By having a passport of their own or at least for one of their parents to have a valid Nigerian passport. This proof of citizenship is key,” Tunde further revealed.
He also went ahead to state that the most tasking part of the process also has to do with the other Nation’s FA to give a no-objection verification which sometimes slows the entire process and can even drag endlessly.
“We also have to request from the nation’s FA (England and the home countries if the player is from the UK) asking them to give a no-objection verification to the NFF for the release of the player. Sometimes this is difficult because the said FA might still feel they potentially could do with the player’s services in the future.
“It’s when we get the no-objection confirmation that we can put it all together in a package and submit to FIFA for their approval,” Mr Tunde concluded.
The NFF have in the past lured players of dual citizenship to represent Nigeria, with the likes of Victor Moses, Alex Iwobi, Ola Aina, Josh Maja, and most recently, Ovie Ejaria to switch allegiances.
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It is now also reflecting in the Super Falcons with the likes of Leicester City’s Megan Ashleigh and Mowaninuola Dada of Watford joining up with the Team in their Austria camp.