Seeing European-born African players playing for African countries is unusual, as they are stuck with which country to play for based on interest, and sometimes they consider other factors that will boost their value and more importantly getting enough playing time.
African is no doubt blessed with talented footballers, spread within and in the diaspora who are vying to represent their national team.
The sizeable Africans in the diaspora provide a pool of talents for both the heavyweight and the minnows countries from the footballing point of view, through colonial history and migrants links which have enabled many African players who are European born to be linked to their country of origin.
A lot of these footballers may have at one time donned the jerseys of different national teams at the youth level U17, U21, and U23 respectively. But when it comes to the national team, it’s down to which country asks first in terms of convincing the player to play for the adopted country or country of origin.
On the other hand, the failure for such players to advance to senior-level may lead to a change of mind in other to represent their country of origin.
Here are 4 young talented African players born abroad who recently switched allegiance
- Tariqe Fosu Henry: (England – Ghana)
The England-born Ghanaian descent was called up to be part of the Black Stars squad, for the first time following an overdue invite for their international friendlies against Qatar which they did win by 5 goals to 1.
Brentford announced Fosu will join up with the former African Champions, having missed the opportunity to join them in March due to the coronavirus pandemic, in preparation for the 2022 Africa Cup of Nations qualifying double-header against Sudan.
Fosu became the third player handed a late invitation to the Black Stars friendlies match. The Brentford forward who is born to Ghanaian parents in the United Kingdom is eligible to represent either England or Ghana at the international level.
The 24-year-old forward was called up to represent the English U18 team at some point, but following his meeting with the Black Stars manager Charles Akonnor, he opts to play for his country of origin.
The withdrawals of players such as John Antwi, Lumor Agbenyenu, and goalkeeper Richard Ofori Antwi due to visa issues, which worked in favor of Fariqe Fosu, alongside Caleb Ekuban and Joseph Paintsil.
The Brentford forward helped the Black Stars produced a fine performance against the 2022 World Cup host by scoring the first goal of the encounter.
- Kevin Akpoguma – (Germany – Nigeria)
TSG 1899 Hoffenheim defender Akpoguma represented Germany at all levels of age-grade competitions, from U16 through U21.
He also captained the Germany U20 team at the 2015 FIFA World Cup in New Zealand, where they got to the quarter-finals losing to Mali via penalties following their 1-1 draw in extra time and also led his side to defeat the Flying Eagles of Nigeria in the round of 16.
Akpoguma recently announced his intention to switch allegiance and represent the Super Eagles at the international level, as such his application was worked on and got approved by FIFA.
Showing his commitment and also getting himself familiar with the team, he arrived at the Eagles camp on Tuesday from Germany, and eventually went on to make his debut in the match against the Carthage Eagles of Tunisia.
The center-back has only made three appearances for his club this season in the Bundesliga, and without a doubt, he would want to consolidate on his 18 league appearances for the ‘Kraichgauer‘ as the new 2020-21 Bundesliga campaign progress.
Having made his debut now, more so with the German connection between him and Gernot Rohr, the Hoffenheim man would definitely look forward to subsequent invitation going forward.
- Kingsley Ehizibue – (Germany – Nigeria)
Ehizibue was born in Germany to Nigerian parents, before moving to the Netherlands at the tender age of two growing up at Zwolle. He started playing football at local amateur outfit CSV’28.
The towering defender plays as a right-back for FC Köln, following a move away from Zwolle in 2019, and since he joined the German side he has garnered over 35 match appearances for The Billy Goats.
The 25-year-old was handed his first call up ahead of the 2021 Africa Cup of Nations qualifiers against Sierra Leone by coach Gernot Rohr, which was postponed as a result of Covid-19 that broke out in March.
Having seen him play in the color of FC Cologne, the Germany born defender is a kind of player that can bring a lot to the table for the Super Eagles, due to his versatility on the pitch, and how well he bump forward to attack the opposing team.
Due to his versatility, he’s equally comfortable playing at the right side of the midfield.
- Andy Delort – (France – Algeria)
Delort may be a professional footballer, but then he has also played beach soccer under Eric Cantona in 2009, in an amateur tournament in Sete.
During the beach soccer tournament, he was spotted by Laurent Castro who asked him to play for the French beach soccer team at the 2009 Beach World Cup, and he went on to score five goals in the qualifiers.
Two years later he was selected by the French football U20 team by Francis Smerecki to play against the United States. Thereafter, he was called to participate in the Toulon Tournament, but unfortunately, he pulled out of the team having suffered a serious injury in a league game.
Of Algerian descent through his mother, the Montpellier forward expressed his admiration and interest in representing the Desert Foxes of Algeria in 2019.
Having made his interest known, the Algerian FA announced Delort’s inclusion in the final squad for the 2019 Africa Cup of Nations hosted in Egypt. He made his debut for Algeria against Mali in a friendly match with a goal to mark his debut.
This set of African players won’t be the first and won’t be the last to switch allegiance from their European countries to play for their country of origin. As a matter of fact, the trend African countries are now following is to go out of their way to bring in talented players into their national team.
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.