After the impressive debut of 29-year-old Carl Ikeme in Super Eagles’ stalemate with Tanzania in Dar Es Salam last weekend, many have questioned why it took so long for Nigeria Football Federation (NFF) to woo the Wolverhampton Wanderers goalkeeper to don the Green and White of Nigeria.
Ikeme was first called up to the Super Eagles squad back in 2007 but finally made his protracted debut for the team as he stood in for the bereaved Vincent Enyeama, and was Super Eagles best player for the day, making some good saves to earn his team a valuable point.
Nigeria has lost some talented players such as Ross Barkley (England), Hal Robson-Kanu (Wales) and David Alaba (Austria) in recent times due to the inability of Nigerian Football executives to swiftly cap these players at senior level.
Now let’s look at ten English-born players who can be added to the Super Eagles to improve the quality of the team.
1. Jordon Ibe
Jordon Ashley Femi Ibe started his career at modest football league side, Wycombe Wanderers where he became their youngest-ever Football League player when he made his debut in 2011 aged just 15. Following his 16th birthday, Ibe was transfered to Premier League giants Liverpool but had to join the U-18 squad to continue his development.
He made his Premier League debut aged 17 in Liverpool’s final game of the 2012/2013 season against Queens Park Rangers (QPR), assisting Phillipe Coutinho for the only goal of the game.
However, his progress was stunted by the emergence of Raheem Sterling and he was loaned out to Birmingham City and Derby County for the rest of 2013/2014 and 2014/2015 seasons respectively.
Now 20 years old, Ibe is expected to play a huge role in Liverpool’s season following £49 million sale of Sterling to Manchester City in the summer. He has already played for England at various youth levels but is eligible to play for Nigeria at senior level through his father.
The NFF and the new Super Eagles coach, Sunday Oliseh have already contacted Ibe to convince him to switch allegiance to Nigeria after reports suggested he was keen on an England career at international level.
2. Tiago Ilori
Tiago Abiola Almeida Ilori is also on the books of Liverpool. The Portugal U-21 international was born in England to a Nigerian father and a Portuguese mother in 1993.
He started his career in Portugal with Sporting Lisbon but earned a £7 million move to Liverpool in 2013. However, he has found games hard to come by at the Merseyside club and was loaned to Granada in January 2014 for the rest of the season. He also spent the entire 2014-2015 season at French Ligue 1 club FC Girondins de Bordeaux.
He was farmed out on loan again this season on transfer deadline day to Premier League club Aston Villa where he is expected to see more playing time. Ilori, 22, has already been approached by the English FA to play for England at senior level but he declined, opting to play for Portugal instead.
We hope the NFF and Super Eagles can use his father to woo him to switch his allegiance to Nigeria.
3. Dele Alli
Bamidele Jermaine Alli plays for Tottenham Hotspur but started his career in League One with Milton Keynes (MK) Dons in 2012. He made his debut for MK Dons in 2011 aged 16 and went on to make 74 league appearances, scoring 22 goals over the next two-and-a half years.
He came to the limelight after a wonderful display in the middle of the park in MK Dons’ surprise 4-0 League Cup win over Manchester United last season. He earned a £5 million move to White Hart Lane last January but was loaned back to MK Dons for the rest of the season, helping them to gain promotion to the Championship.
Ironically, he made his Tottenham debut against Manchester United in this season’s curtain opener. He has featured in 3 of Spurs’ 4 games so far, scoring once to earn his team a valuable point at high flying Leicester City. He has been compared to Steven Gerrard hence the English authorities are keen to have him on Three Lions roster. It was reported earlier this year that John Fashanu will help convince the 19-year-old to play for his father’s country.
4. Chuba Akpom
Chuba Amaechi Akpom made his Premier League debut in 2013 with Arsenal at the age of 18 in 3-1 win over Sunderland.
Akpom, now 20, was expected to be part of Arsene Wenger’s plans for the new season but was surprisingly sent to Championship club Hull City on a season-long loan. He hit the ground running, scoring on his debut in a 2-0 win over Huddersfield Town back in August.
Akpom can add pace and power to Super Eagles’ attack which lacked bite against the Tanzanians.
5. Dominic Iorfa Jnr.
Iorfa, 20, is the son of former Nigerian footballer, Dominic Iorfa. At club level, he is team mates with Carl Ikeme at Wolverhampton Wanderers.
Iorfa has become a fan favourite and a first-team regular at the Molineux Stadium following his impressive displays. He was adjudged Football League’s Young Player Of The Month in January, 2015. He was called up to England U-21 squad for last week’s international games and was also promoted to train with the senior team by Roy Hodgson for their Euro 2016 qualifiers against San Marino.
He is expected to move to the Premier League at the end of the season when his contract with Wolves expires.
His father has reiterated that his son will represent Nigeria at senior level but with his stock rising, it is only a matter of time before he is capped by England so NFF needs to act fast and give him a call-up to Super Eagles.
To be continued …