With days away from the 2022 World Cup, several nations have released their squads for the Qatar soccer fiesta. Although the Super Eagles did not qualify for the competition, some teams have called up players of Nigerian descent to feature for their country in the Middle East nation.
Checks indicate that some sides have invited some players with Nigerian roots for the tournament which runs from November 20th to December 18th.
Ahead of the kickoff, Channels Television beams the searchlight on these players who would be wearing the colours of other nations in the world’s biggest football competition.
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Bukayo Saka – England
The Arsenal youngster burst onto the scene two seasons ago and has grown to be one of the Gunners’ key players under Mikel Arteta’s tutelage. Born in London to Nigerian parents, the 21-year-old was eligible to feature for the Super Eagles but chose the Three Lions.
Since making his debut for Gareth Southgate’s side in 2020, Saka has featured 22 times for the 1966 World Cup winners, scoring four goals in the process. The English Footballer of the Year struck thrice as the team qualified for Qatar. He is expected to extend his fine form at Arsenal to the national team aiming to go further than their semi-final finish four years ago.
Manuel Akanji – Switzerland
Another Premier League star of Nigerian lineage set to feature in the quadrennial tournament is Manuel Akanji. The 27-year-old Manchester City defender was born in Neftenbach, Switzerland, to a Nigerian father and a Swiss mother.
This would be his second appearance in the competition having featured for the Europeans four years ago. Akanji, who recently moved to England, has 42 caps and made his debut for the Red Crosses in 2017. He featured for them at the youth level and was touted to represent Nigeria before pitching his tent with his birthplace.
Noah Okafor – Switzerland
Aside from Akanji, the Swiss national team have another player of Nigerian ancestry heading to the World Cup. Noah Okafor shares a similarity with the Manchester City man in the sense that he was born to a Nigerian father and has a Swiss mother.
The 22-year-old forward, born in Binningen, played for the Europeans at every youth level but made his debut for the senior side in 2019. He was instrumental in their Qatar qualification as his first international goal sealed the World Cup ticket for Switzerland. This year’s edition would be his first outing at the quadrennial tournament.
Jamal Musiala – Germany
Away from the Swiss team, Germany also have another player of Nigerian roots in their ranks. Bayern Munich youth sensation was listed in the squad for the competition.
The former Chelsea Academy star was born to a British-Nigeria father in Stuggart and has a German mother. He moved to England at seven and featured for the English U-17 side but snubbed the nation and Nigeria for his mother’s nation at the senior level.
Nigeria had attempted to convince the 19-year-old to play for the Super Eagles in 2020, according to former team handler Gernot Rohr. Like several others, Musiala rejected Nigeria, 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.
Karim Adeyemi – Germany
Just like Musiala, the German team will be parading 20-year-old Karim Adeyemi 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. His father reportedly moved to Germany in the 1990s to pursue a football career.
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 5 September 2021.
The forward, who plays for Borussia Dortmund in the Bundesliga, joined the German side in May 2022. Before then, the striker scored 19 times for Red Bull Salzburg in the 2021-2022 campaign. Since switching to Germany, he has played four times for the side.
Ike Ugbo – Canada
Moving to North America, two players who have Nigerian roots made the cut for the Canadian national team squad. Leading the list is Ike Ugbo who plays for Ligue 1 team Troyes. He was born in London to Nigerian parents but the family moved to Canada when he was around five.
While the 24-year-old forward was eligible to represent the three nations, he played for the English side at the youth level. In September last year, Ugbo pledged his allegiance to the three-time African champions but made a U-turn two months later, committing 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
Another name in the Canadian rooster is Samuel Adekugbe who was born in England to Nigerian parents. The 27-year-old defender’s family later moved to Canada and the player who features for Turkish Super Lig club Hatayspor is on the plane to the Middle East nation.
He has 33 appearances for Coach Jon Herdman’s charges and is expected to help make Canada’s return to the competition – after several decades – one to remember.