No Eagles? No problem: 7 players ‘representing’ Nigeria at Qatar 2022 World Cup

The Super Eagles will not be at the Qatar 2022 World Cup which starts tomorrow, but there will be a few Nigerian names on the backs of shirts.

The most populous country in Africa has a large Diaspora and this is reflected in quite a number of sportsmen and women with Nigerian blood across the globe.

While some of these sportspeople have traced their steps back to Nigeria and represented the country, there are others who opted to be loyal to the countries they were born in or in which they grew up.

Some of those ones flying the colours of their countries of birth are in Qatar with their chosen national teams…

BUKAYO SAKA (ENGLAND): Possibly the most famous of the players with Nigerian blood featuring for other countries, the Arsenal star is one of England’s key stars in Qatar.

The 20-year-old is attending his second major tournament with the Three Lions having propelled them to their first major final since 1966 at the European Championships last year.

Saka has been in fine form with the table-topping Gunners this term, contributing four goals and six assists in 14 Premier League appearances, and is expected to play an important role for England in Qatar.

BORN: September 5, 2001 in London, England.

CAPS: 20 (four goals).

NOAH OKAFOR (SWITZERLAND): The RB Salzburg striker burst onto the scene in 2021 and has been on the rise since.

He was born in Binningen, Switzerland to a Nigerian father and played for the Swiss at U-15, U-17, U-18 and U-19 levels before graduating to the senior squad.

Okafor made his senior international debut in 2019 and has played nine times for Switzerland, scoring two goals. He has played an important role this season for Red Bull Salzburg, scoring seven goals in 14 appearances in all competitions as they reached their first-ever UEFA Champions League round of 16.

BORN: May 24, 2000

CAPS: 9 (two goals)

KARIM ADEYEMI (GERMANY): The Borussia Dortmund striker came to prominence last season while playing for Red Bull Salzburg in Austria.

He was born in Munich, Germany to a Nigerian father and Romanian mother, and he was briefly in the Bayern academy. He moved across the border to Austria to join Salzburg in 2018, where he spent four seasons, one of them on loan.

Adeyemi scored 27 goals in 68 appearances for Salzburg before switching to Dortmund this summer. He has struggled at the German club, but Germany coach Hansi Flick has enough faith in the youngster to take him to the World Cup.

He made his senior Germany debut against Armenia in September 2021, scoring the sixth goal in a 6-0 win.

BORN: January 18, 2002.

CAPS: 4 (one goal)

JAMAL MUSIALA (GERMANY): The rising Bayern Munich star could have played for Nigeria, England and Germany, but opted for the latter.

He was born in Stuttgart, Germany to a Nigerian father and German mother, and raised from the age of seven in England. The 19-year-old attacking midfielder represented both Germany and England at age-grade levels before pledging his international allegiance to Germany last year.

Musiala, who was in the German squad to the European Championships last year, has been in fine form with Bayern this term, scoring nine goals in 14 Bundesliga appearances, although he has not been as prolific with the national team.

BORN: February 26, 2003.

CAPS: 17 (one goal)

MANUEL AKANJI (SWITZERLAND): The Manchester City defender is the most capped of the ‘Nigerian’ players heading to Qatar.

The 27-year-old former Borussia Dortmund centre-back was born in Neftenbach, Switzerland to a Nigerian father and Swiss mother.

Akanji is a certain starter for Switzerland when he is fit and he is going to his third major tournament, having featured at the Russia 2018 World Cup and last year’s European Championships.

BORN: July 19, 1995

CAPS: 43 (one goal)

SAMUEL ADEKUGBE (CANADA): The Haytaspor of Turkey defender was born in London, England to Nigerian parents and moved to Canada with his family when he was 10.

He featured for Canada at U-18 and U-20 levels before making his senior international debut in 2015.

Adekugbe was pivotal in Canada securing their first World Cup ticket in 36 years as he scored an important goal in a 2-0 win against the United States in a qualifying clash.

This is his second major tournament with Canada after the 2017 CONCACAF Gold Cup.

BORN: January 16, 1995

CAPS: 34 (one goal)

IKE UGBO (CANADA): Another one who could have played for three countries: Nigeria, England and Canada.

Ugbo was born in London to Nigerian parents but moved to Canada as a young child, then returned to England to start his football career.

He was in Chelsea’s youth teams and spent several years at the Premier League club, although he never made a senior appearance for them, instead going on load deals across the lower leagues in England and modest clubs in Holland and Belgium.

He is now with Troyes in the French Ligue 1.

BORN: September 21, 1998

CAPS: 8 (no goal).

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