Amaju Pinnick has debunked media reports that suggested that about half a dozen youngsters born overseas have received the go-ahead from FIFA to play for the African giants
NFF President Amaju Pinnick has confirmed that FIFA has cleared only talismanic Reading midfielder Ovie Ejaria to represent Nigeria at the international level.
Reports flooded the media space recently claiming that the world football-governing body had granted clearance to some Germany and England born youngsters to switch their allegiance to the three-time African champions.
The players include RB Leipzig forward currently on-loan at Fulham Ademola Lookman, Hertha Berlin’s defensive ace Jordan Torunarigha, Southampton’s versatile attacker Nathan Tella and Liverpool-owned Cardiff City winger Sheyi Ojo.
Others are former Liverpool man Ovie Ejaria, PSV wonderkid Noni Madueke, Fulham’s centreback Tosin Adarabioyo, and exciting young forward Ike Ugbo, who is on loan at Cercle Brugge from English giants Chelsea.
But Pinnick, head of the official body that should be in the know, has waved aside such unconfirmed reports.
The ambitious football administrator insists only Ejaria, who has been sensational for Reading this term while leading the Royals’ promotion charge, is available for the Super Eagles.
“Ovie Ejaria has been cleared by FIFA to play for us (Nigeria), that I can confirm to you, I’m not aware of the others,” Pinnick told The PUNCH.
Ejaria, born in England to Nigerian parents, has represented the Europeans at age-grade levels, winning the U-20 World Cup with the Young Lions in 2017.
The 23-year-old has scored two goals and supplied five assists in 21 games for Reading this term with the Royals propped up in 5th – one of the playoff spots.
Pinnick maintains that the door is not shut on other youngsters, but he is clear that the Nigeria Football Federation would not beg any of them to represent the country.
The NFF boss added: “We won’t beg anybody to play for us. If you want to play for the Super Eagles, you have to write to the federation informing them of your intention. We will look at your statistics and decide if the player has what it takes to play for our national team or not.”
“If you get the nod, then you know that you are going to fight for a place in the team. If the others have applied to play for us, no problem, their letters will get to my table,” Pinnick concluded.