Abuja-The Nigeria Football Federation (NFF) on Sunday said it took Arsenal’s Alex Iwobi to Gabon as part of its plans to encourage Nigerians in the Diaspora to identify with the national teams
The U-23 football team, also known as Dream Tean VI, was in Gabon to play a qualifier with their Gabonese counterparts for the 2015 All African Games.
Though Iwobi, an England junior international was not fielded as he was yet to be cleared to play for Nigeria, he was taken along in order to encourage him to play for Nigeria.
The News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) reports that Iwobi and eight other foreign based players were invited by Samsom Siasia, the Head Coach to fortify the team.
NFF Secretary-General Emmanuel Ikpeme, said the football house was not ignorant of the fact that the world football ruling body, FIFA had not cleared Iwobi, an England junior international to play for Nigeria.
“As a responsible body, there was no way we could have used Alex Iwobi to play for us in Gabon knowing the implication of such an act.
“The rules are very clear on players or country seeking to switch allegiance from one country to another.
“So Iwobi, having played for England at the cadet level, he cannot play for Nigeria at the same level.
“There is no way he could play for us in any such level, unless the senior national team. We are trying to get him play for Nigeria at that level.
“Luckily for us his parents have been of great help in this regard,’’ he said.
He said that the Dream Team VI was the next generation of Super Eagles, adding that more players would be invited into the team to be groomed into the senior national team.
“We know that the U-23 team is like the feeder team for the Super Eagles we are trying to build; so bringing the young man to be part of this process was done on purpose,” he said.
NAN recalls that Dream Team VI beat their Gabonese counterpart 4-1 on Saturday at the Stade Augustin Monedan de Sibang in Libreville.
The match was the first leg of their qualifiers for men’s football event of the 11th All-African Games holding in Congo. (NAN)