The Togo Football Federation has taken steps to halt Gift Orban’s involvement with the Nigerian national team, sparking a debate over his nationality, Soccernet.ng reports.
The rising star gained prominence earlier this year with his remarkable goal-scoring streak for Belgian top-tier club KAA Gent.
Orban, having earned his first call-up to the Super Eagles just last month, missed his chance to debut due to an injury sustained during training.
While Victor Boniface, Bayer Leverkusen striker, made his international debut in the same match against Sao Tome and Principe, Orban’s anticipated appearance was postponed due to his injury.
With his return from injury, Orban was expected to join the national squad for upcoming fixtures in November.
However, the young talent’s name was conspicuously absent from the Super Eagles’ squad list for the upcoming friendlies against Saudi Arabia and Mozambique.
Reports from Own Goal have suggested that Orban’s exclusion in November stems from an ongoing nationality dispute.
Allegedly, the Nigerian Football Federation (NFF) received correspondence from the Togolese FA asserting that Orban is, in fact, of Togolese nationality and, therefore, eligible to represent Togo in international competitions.
To avoid potential conflicts with FIFA regulations, it appears that the NFF has opted not to invite Orban to the national team until this matter is resolved.
This unexpected development may have significant implications for Orban’s international career, potentially ruling him out of Nigeria’s participation in the Africa Cup of Nations scheduled to be held in Ivory Coast in January.
Orban currently holds a Nigerian passport and has publicly acknowledged his father’s roots in Benue State, while his mother hails from Togo.
Despite initial high expectations, Orban’s recent performance has dropped as a much-anticipated move to a major league failed to materialise.
Since his transfer to Gent from Norwegian club Stabaek in January, he has managed to net 26 goals.