NFF President Amaju Pinnick said in an Instagram Live chat with the federation’s official channel, that players would not be begged to represent Nigeria.
“There are many players that play like Bukayo Saka in Nigeria. We don’t want to go begging any player,” Pinnick said.
Pinnick’s statement is indicative of the NFF’s new strategy, following criticism of their methods of approaching dual nationals and elevating them over home-grown players.
An NFF source told ESPN that the new policy is simple: Talented dual nationals who have the required quality would be informed that they are welcome to play for Nigeria if they so choose.
But after that initial approach, the choice of representing Nigeria will be down to them. And the NFF will only engage again if the player reaches out, especially those — like England-born Saka — who have already represented one country at junior level and are looking to switch.
Young, talented, able to slot into multiple positions on the pitch, Arsenal youngster Bukayo Saka is the perfect example of the foreign-born player of Nigerian origins that the Super Eagles need.
But in what has become a change in approach, the Nigeria Football Federation says it will be up to the player — and others with dual nationality who are eligible to represent Nigeria — to decide whether to represent the country.