The Les Blues triumph at the 2018 FIFA World Cup in Russia was a testament to the avalanche of talents the continent ‘AFRICA’ possess, however, some of this African born footballers did play for their nation, while some are not so lucky despite their talents to play for their country of birth, due to one reason or another.
Had it being they played for their country of birth, probably they could have also made Africa proud just like Mbappe et al did make Africans proud when France win the World Cup with a team predominantly dominated by African born players.
Today, we take a look at some African born footballers who never represent their country of birth and Africa, perhaps if they had represented their nations, Africa could have been the world-beaters continent and possibly lunch an assault on the World Cup.
Patrick Owomoyela – Germany/Retired
Owomoyela is a Nigerian born right-back defender/midfielder, he was born by a German mother and a Nigerian father, Owomoyela is well recognized during his stint with SV Werder Bremen in Germany in 2005 where he cemented his place in the team as a first choice right-back which he did helped Bremen secured the second position on the league standings.
Among the team he represented was Arminia Bielefeld then in the Bundesliga (2) in 2003, before he joined Bremen, he also had a stint with Borrusia Dortmund where he reestablish his club career when he left Bremen plagued with injuries.
Owomoyela played for Jürgen Klinsmann’s national side in an Asian tour, against Japan, a match which Germany came out triumphant with a 3-0 win, he also represented the DieManncheft at the Confederation Cup in 2005.
Emmanuel Olisadebe – Poland/Retired
The Nigerian born Olisadebe, became a Polish citizen in 2000 when he was dim eligible for Poland citizenship, he scored 11 international goals in 25 caps between 2000 and 2004 for the Polish national team and participated at the 2002 FIFA World Cup.
Olisadebe also had a successful career with his Polish-based club Polonia Warsaw when he left Jasper United in Nigeria, he won the Ekstraklasa league title, Ekstraklasa Cup and Polish Super Cup.
He also had a stint in Greece notably with Panathinaikos, scoring over 24 goals in 74 matches with the League Cup and the Super Cup to his name, among the clubs he represented are in Cyprus, England, and China with Henan Construction.
Gerald Asamoah – Germany/Retired
Asamoah was born in Mampong, Ghana to Ghanaian parents, but his family migrated to Germany in 1990.
Asamoah started his career with Hannover 96 where he played 79 games before moving elsewhere in Germany, but he was known at Schalke 04, where he had the best of his club career playing over 275 league games in 11 years with the team.
In 2001, Asamoah made his debut for the DieMannchaft against Slovakia which he scores, making him the first African born black player to ever play for Germany, as Jimmy Hartwig and Erwin Kostedde two players with black ancestry born to African-American father’s in Germany also did play for the German national team.
Mouritala Ogunbiyi – Benin Republic/Dragons
Mouri was one of the important players for Enyimba FC back in 2003-06 where the Aba Elephants did dominate the Nigeria Professional League and to some extent Africa when they won their first Caf Champions League, which he was very instrumental in winning the title with his vision for great passes.
The Nigerian born Ogunbiyi represent Benin Republic at the AFCON in 2004, but couldn’t help his team passed the first round of the tournament.
Although Ogunbiyi might not represent some of the big clubs in the world, yet he was a wonderful player who perhaps, could have represented the Super Eagles in the National team had he gotten the opportunity.
Patrick Vieira – France/Retired
Vieira born to a Senegalese father and a Cape Verdian mother in Dakar, Senegal, he represented France at the international level and the youth level, his family moved from Senegal to Dreux, France, when he was eight, and he did not return to Senegal until 2003.
The former Arsenal’s captain’s parents divorced when he was young, and he never meet his father again, but his grandfather serves in the French Army made him eligible for the French nationality.
Vieira was considered one of the best players of his generation, where he had a stint with Arsenal, Inter Milan, and Manchester City before he hung his boot.
Vieira has more connection with the country of birth and has been asked on numerous occasions by the media, why he didn’t represent the West African nation. “He said one of the reasons for his choice was the failure of the Senegal Football Association to recognize his talents as a youngster to represent the country at youth level“.
Angelo Ogbonna – Italy/West Ham
West Ham United defender, Ogbonna, was born to Nigerian parents who traveled to Italy in 1988, he made his debut for Italy in 2011 in a friendly game against Poland where the Azzurri won 2-0.
He was also in the Italian 23-man final squad for UEFA Euro 2012, but never played in any match during the competition, and did finish the tournament with a silver medal despite not playing a single match.
Ogbonna managed to obtained his Italian citizenship after his 18th birthday, and since then he couldn’t represent Nigeria again after he had already played for Italy.
Marcel Desailly – France/Retired
Desailly was born Odenke Abbey in Accra Ghana, to Ghanaian parents, his name was changed when his mother married the head of the French Consulate in Accra, who adopted all of her children.
The family moved to France when Desailly was four years old following Adonkor’s lead, and he began his career at FC Nantes with star players like Didier Deschamps et al.
Desailly often said that he feels totally French despite having ties with Ghana, that he never even considered playing for a country other than France, and he represented Les Blues at the FIFA World Cup in France.
Claude Makelele – France/Retired
The former Real Madrid midfield marshall Makélélé was born in Kinshasa, DR Congo, he moved to Savigny-le-Temple, a suburb of Paris in Seine-et-Marne, in 1977, at the age of four.
The midfielder was considered so important for club and country due to how effective and hardworking he was on the field of play, even as that a position was named after him.
If Makelele had played for his country of birth, perhaps his talent and influence could have changed the fortune of DR Congo.
Patrice Evra – France/Retired
Evra was born in Senegal to a diplomat, he arrived in Europe when he was barely a year old, and started his career with Italian club Marsala as a young footballer, he also stints with Monza another Italian side but his stay there wasn’t a lengthy one before he returned to France a year later to play for Nice where he was converted into a full-back.
The former United left-back was well known for his exploit with Monaco when they reached the 2004 UEFA Champions League Final against Porto, Evra’s performances for Monaco culminated into a move to Manchester United during that period.
Evra retired from professional football in 2019, if he had donned the jersey of the Teranga Lions of Senegal, he could have been one of the best African left back to ever graced the continent, however that doesn’t mean Evra wasn’t one of the best left-back to ever played the round leather game playing for France and top clubs in Europe.
Christian Benteke – Belgium/Crystal Palace
Benteke was born in Kinshasa, DR Congo in 1990, but his family fled the capital during the Mobutu regime and in 1993 they migrated to Liège in Belgium.
He began his career at Standard Liège, playing a part in their 2008-09 Belgian First Division triumph, following his brilliant performance with Standard Liege, he was signed by Genk the following season.
Benteke earned over 30 caps for Belgium since making his debut in 2010, and in 2014 he missed the 2014 FIFA World Cup through injury but was part of the team that reached the quarter-finals of UEFA Euro 2016.
FIFA Congress To Decide Future Host Of FIFA Women’s World Cup™
Council assigns FIFA Women’s World Cup™ hosting decision to the football governing body’s Congress; also approves financial statements for 2020 and budget for 2022.
Meeting by video conference, the Council conferred to the Congress the decision to award Women’s World Cup™ hosting rights.
Until now, the decision has been taken by the FIFA Council, most recently in June 2020 when the hosting rights for the 2023 edition were awarded to Australia and New Zealand.
As the football governing body seeks to raise the profile of the women’s game, this represents a significant step to bring the Women’s World Cup in line with the flagship men’s competition.
The proposal will be put forward for a final decision by the 71st FIFA Congress, which will meet virtually (for the second time) on 21 May.
International match calendar and release of players.
The FIFA Council received a report on the international football situation during the COVID-19 pandemic.
The Bureau of the Council had extended to April 2021 the temporary amendments to the Regulations on the Status and Transfer of Players regarding the release of players for international duty, and FIFA, the confederations, and its member associations remain in dialogue with national authorities about exemptions from quarantine rules for national team players.
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The FIFA Council recognized that the highest priority in football is the health of the players, and therefore the discussion around the release of players for international duty must maintain this perspective, especially as the public health situation develops around the world.
2020 financials and 2022 budget
The Council also approved the organization’s Annual Report, which contains the financial statements for 2020 and the budget for 2022.
The FIFA Annual Report 2020 focuses on the role played by world football’s governing body in the fight against COVID-19, primarily through the unprecedented COVID-19 Relief Plan, which has made available USD 1.5 billion to support FIFA’s 211 member associations and the confederations through times of financial uncertainty.
The FIFA Annual Report 2020 is available on the official site.
FIFA Arab Cup 2021™
The Council approved the competition regulations for the FIFA Arab Cup 2021, confirming the match schedule and draw procedure for the competition taking place in Qatar from 1 to 18 December this year.
Distributed by APO Group on behalf of Fédération Internationale de Football Association.
Paul Onuachu: A Victim Of Tactical Deficiency
Ever wondered why Genk forward Paul Onuachu has always been a prolific figure for his club and find it hard to replicate that form with the Super Eagles when invited?
The Nigeria international has been in awesome form for the Blue-White, scoring 26 goals in the Jupiler League this season for Genk, while his scoring prowess at his club has been a contrast to his form with the national team under Gernot Rohr scoring just once in 9 games despite being a top performer at club level.
Ahead of the AFCON qualifier doubleheader against Lesotho and the Benin Republic, Super Eagles coach Gernot Rohr named his 23 man list with the inform former Midtjylland forward listed as one of the standby players.
Onuachu’s struggles with the Super Eagles in previous games he featured is quite baffling, considering the excitement that greeted his first appearance with the national team plus the impressive form he’s currently in.
The job of every manager is to find a suitable position or fashion out tactics that would be suitable for their players in other to blend with the team approaches to every match. In Onuachu’s case, he hasn’t been fortunate enough to blend in with Rohr’s tactics. While at club level, Midtjylland plays to his strength.
However, due to Napoli’s players been restricted from traveling, the Genk forward made it through the backdoor to replace Gernot Rohr’s number one forward Victor Osimhen who hasn’t really hit the ground running with the ‘Partenopei‘, but when with the Eagles, he never fails to deliver.
It’s no doubt that the lanky striker has failed to deliver in his previous games, disappointing the ever-demanding Nigerian football enthusiasts with unforgiving backlashes from the fans. However, his prolific prowess with his club suggests otherwise and consistently makes a case for him to be integrated into the team with a different tactical approach that suits his style.
The era of a target man may have been long gone in football due to the advent of new tactics that have brought about a series of changes in the game. With managers preferring to go with a fast, skillful, or makeshift winger- kind of striker, instead of a target man.
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Looking at how Paul Onuachu plays with Genk upfront shows he’s one of the best target men in football, despite been perceived by many as a slow and old-fashioned kind of forward. However, John van den Bromm has been able to carve out a tactic that suits him which has been evident with his prolific form irrespective of his style of play.
Onuachu’s Super Eagle future might be on the knife-edge with Gernot Rohr not finding the right tactics that suit the Genk forward, especially with him not been consider as the go-to man despite his blistering runs of form in Belgium.
In recent times Rohr’s philosophy of vibrant attacking football with an emphasis on passing in the final third which requires the expertise of brilliant players to implement such tactics hasn’t really favored him.
Having a player in the mold of Onuachu gives Rohr another tactical option and an alternative style of play should the initial approach fails to work as expected, but the German tactician hasn’t really taken advantage of what the man could offer with a different opponent.
Onuachu’s presence in the Super Eagles team should be an added advantage in terms of variety when the normal approach of the manager fails. With an in-form striker on the bench, it could prove valuable, but in the former Midtjylland’s case, Gernot Rohr doesn’t seem to see him as a player that has a future with the national team.
Players in the mold of the Nigerian are quite physically imposing as the point man, though they may not offer the team excellent off-the-ball movement in some cases. However, they often find a way to provide an opportunity which the team could utilize when attacking or defending.
Onuachu’s inability to show a good turn of pace and smart footwork may have been one of the deficiencies that are affecting his chances of blending perfectly into the team.
However, the job of a manager is to help players blend in perfectly, and that’s exactly what Gernot Rohr should be doing. Not only for Onuachu but for every other player who are always finding it hard to replicate club form with the National Team.