When Salzburg hosted Bundesliga giants Bayern Munich in the first leg of their UEFA Champions League Round of 16 clash on Wednesday night, a Nigerian youngster, Chukwubuike Junior Adamu was the hero and cynosure of all eyes as he helped his side secure a hard-fought 1-1 draw.
Football pundits had favoured the team from Germany to sweep aside their Austrian opponents but in the end, they were unable to get the maximum points largely due to the efforts of some Nigerian players in the Salzburg squad.
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Adamu’s 21st minute strike also broke Thierry Henry’s 17-year record of the fastest substitute to score a goal in the UEFA Champions League.
Salzburg have in their ranks players of Nigerian descent such as a former Golden Eaglets captain, Samson Tijani, Karim Adeyemi and Noah Okafor, another player of Nigeria descent who sustained an injury in the 10th minute of the clash with Bayern and had to leave the stage for Adamu who turned out to be the hero on the night.
Adamu was born in northern Nigeria to Nigerian parents, but has spent most of his life in Austria. He has played one game for the Austrian national team but he could still switch to Nigeria because he has just one senior international cap.
The new FIFA rules give room for such changes. According to the new rule, players can switch allegiances, if they have played not more than three competitive matches at the senior level prior to them turning 21.
Even as the other three Salzburg players have taken up other nationalities, Samson is fully eligible to represent his country of birth. Already he had recorded some appearances in the camp of the Super Eagles.
Following the recent switch of nationality by Lookman Haruna Ademola who changed from the Three Lions of England to the Super Eagles, most Nigerians are already salivating over the prospects of the other three Salzburg wonder-kids leaving their adopted countries to play for Nigeria.
This is not coming as a surprise because Nigeria is blessed with players with dual nationalities who are plying their trade in Europe. And recently, the Nigeria Football Federation (NFF) has made it a policy to go after some of these talents.
Although some like Dele Alli and Tammy Abraham have slipped through NFF’s fingers, some like Williams-Troost Ekong, Leo Balogun, Maduka Okoye, Tyronne Ebuehi have been ‘poached’ and are rendering services to the Super Eagles.
Interestingly, the Leicester City star, Ademola, who only recently got FIFA’s approval to represent Nigeria, is in line to make his Super Eagles debut in the 2022 World Cup playoff match against the Black Stars of Ghana on March 24 .
As Nigerian football fans reflect on the recent ‘poaching’ of foreign based players of Nigerian descent, Trust Sports takes a look at some of these young players below the age of 21 years who are potential Super Eagles players with dual nationalities.
1. Michael Olise (Cyrstal Palace, Midfielder-Winger, 20 years old)
Michael Akpovie Olise is known to all those who are keen followers of the English Premier League. The attacking midfielder made a name for himself at Reading in the championship before moving to Cyrstal Palace.
The thing with Michael Olise is that he is eligible to play for four countries; England, France, Algeria, and Nigeria according to an online platform, SportsRation.
2. Kevin Schade (Freiburg, Winger, 20 years Old)
Kevin Shade has a Nigerian father and a German mother. The winger has scored three goals in the Bundesliga for Freiburg this season.
3. Mujaid Sadick (Genk, Central Defender, 20 years old)
Mujaid Sadick Aliu was born in Spain to a Nigerian father and a Ghanaian mother. He currently plays in the same team as Paul Onuachu and has scored a goal in 15 Belgian Pro-league game.
4. Tino Anjorin (Lokomotiv Moscow, Winger, 20 years old)
Faustino Adebola Rasheed Anjorin is a very popular Chelsea academy graduate currently playing in Russia with Lokomotiv Moscow.
5. Kevin Martins (Inter Milan, Forward, 17 years old)
Kevin Maussi Martins is the son of Ex-Super Eagles striker, Obafemi Martins. He was born in Italy to a Nigerian father and a Ghanaian mother. He is a nephew to Mario Balotelli.
6. Femi Azeez (Reading, Winger, Striker, 20 years old)
Azeez was born in England to a Nigerian father and Spanish mother. Azeez’s brother, Miguel Azeez, is also a professional footballer at the youth academy of Arsenal.
7. Tochi Chukwuani (Nordsjælland, midfielder, 18 years old)
Born in Herlev, Denmark to Nigerian parents and he is a youth international for Denmark.
8. Emanuel Emegha (Antwerp, forward, 19 years old)
He is a Dutch professional footballer who plays as a forward for Belgian club Antwerp.Born in the Netherlands to a Togolese father and Nigerian mother. He is a youth international for the Netherlands.
9. Joshua Zirkzee (Anderlecht, on loan from Bayern Munich, forward, 20 years old)
Born in the Netherlands to a Dutch father and a Nigerian mother, Zirkzee is a youth international for the Netherlands
10. Shola Shoretire (Manchester United, forward, 18 years old)
Shoretire was a part of Manchester United’s youth team from a young age and was quickly promoted to the club’s first team. He signed his first professional contract in February 2021, at the age of 17. As Shoretire was born in England to a Nigerian father and English mother, he is eligible to represent both nations at international levels.
11. Caleb Okoli (Cremonese, on loan from Atalanta, Center-back, 20 years old)
Born in Italy, Okoli is of Nigerian descent. He was first called up to represent Italy in 2019 with the Italy U19 side and has played 5 times for the U21 side.
12. Carney Chukuemeka (Aston Villa, Midfielder, 18 years old)
Born in Austria to Nigerian parents, he represents England at the youth international level, most recently captaining the England U19 side. Chukwuemeka is eligible to play for the national teams of England, Nigeria, and Austria.
13. Miguel Azeez (Arsenal on loan at Portsmouth, midfielder, 19 years old)
Azeez was born in England, but has a Nigerian father and a Spanish mother and has represented England at under-16, under-17, under-18, under-19, and under-20 levels. His older brother Femi plays as a professional footballer for Reading.
14. Lesley Ugochukwu (Stade Rennais, Midfielder, 17 years old)
Born in France, Ugochukwu is of Nigerian descent and is the nephew of former Rennes and Nigeria center-back Onyekachi Apam
15. Destiny Udogie (Udinese, on loan from Hellas Verona, defender, 19 years old)
Destiny Udogie is a left-back who has been linked with a move to Juventus. At 19, he has played 21 Serie A games this season.
16. Noni Madueke (PSV Eindhoven, Attacking Midfielder-Winger, 19 years old)
Chukwunonso “Noni” Tristan Madueke has been turning heads in the Netherlands with PSV Eindhoven scoring goals in the Europa League and in the Eredivisie.