Nigeria narrowly missed out on the 2022 World Cup after being eliminated in the third round of qualifying on the away goals rule against Ghana, but the Giant of Africa is likely to be represented by a host of players with Nigerian backgrounds in Qatar.
One of the highest profile players will be the Arsenal winger Bukayo Saka, who represents England and was born in London to Nigerian parents. The 20-year-old suffered heartache when he missed a vital penalty against Italy in the UEFA Euro 2020 Final, but the youngster, who has scored four goals in 21 international appearances, is likely to be on the plane to Qatar. He is already showing the type of form required to earn a place in the England squad.
There is a chance he could be joined by Tammy Abraham, who was also born in London. The ex-Chelsea striker has played just 11 games for England, scoring three goals, but his performances for AS Roma could alert England coach Gareth Southgate to the goal threat posed by the powerful forward.
A wealth of Nigerian talent
The North American nation of Canada could potentially name a range of players with Nigerian backgrounds in its squad. While soccer is the most popular sport in Nigeria, soccer is also growing in popularity in Canada, though it has to compete with the national sport ice hockey. The increased following of soccer in Canada is also reflected in the boom in soccer slots such as Football Mania and Football Mania Deluxe, which are available when you play best online casino Canada. As love for the beautiful game is growing around the world, it is no surprise to see soccer slot titles which capitalize on the popularity of the game.
Forward Tesho Akindele was born in Calgary and has a Nigerian father. The 30-year-old has scored three goals in 19 games for Canada and could be a contender to make the World Cup squad. Another striker with a chance is Ayo Akinola, who was born in Detroit and at the age of 22, has just two international caps for Canada under his belt. He was eligible to play for Nigeria and the United States and though he played for the US at youth level and played one international for the United States, he chose Canada.
A possible World Cup wildcard
Another possible wildcard selection is 17-year-old winger Luca Koleosho. He was born in the United States to a Nigerian father and is also eligible to play for Canada and the United States. The youngster has not yet decided who he will represent at international level and it is possible that we are more likely to see him play at the World Cup in 2026 when it is held in Canada, the United States and Mexico.
One Canadian player with a Nigerian background who has all but secured his place in the World Cup squad is left-back Sam Adekugbe. The 27-year-old was born in London to Nigerian parents and plays for Turkish club Hatayspor. He has represented Canada on 31 occasions, scoring one goal.
The 2022 World Cup will be closely followed by many millions of soccer crazy Nigerians later this year and while Nigeria narrowly missed out on qualification, there will be no shortage of players with Nigerian backgrounds to root for this time round.