On Saturday, Nigeria sealed her place in the Russia 2018 World Cup with a 1-0 victory over Zambia in Uyo.
The Super Eagles, seeking their sixth appearance in the world’s football showpiece, led the Russia 2018 qualifying Group B with 10 points from four games followed by Zambia’s Chipolopolo, who had seven points from the same number of games prior to the Uyo encounter.
A win ensured that Nigeria moved six points clear of Zambia, making it impossible for Zambia to qualify
This development has caused England some discomfort.
Reports on Friday said England had been gripped by fear they could lose the likes of Tammy Abraham, Sheyi Ojo, Dominic Solanke, Ademola Lookman, Josh Onomah, who have Nigerian roots, to the Eagles.
Liverpool striker Solanke, Everton forward Lookman, Liverpool winger Ojo and Tottenham defender Onomah helped England win the FIFA Under- 20 World Cup for the first time in South Korea in June.
Ovie Ejaria and Fikayo Tomori, who also have Nigerian ancestry, were part of the squad. The players are still eligible to play for the Eagles as they have yet to be capped at senior level by England.
England recently lost Chelsea defender Ola Aina to the Eagles – one year after Arsenal’s rising star Alex Iwobi switched his international allegiance to Nigeria.
The Nigeria Football Federation had made moves to get 19-year-old Ojo, who is on loan at Fulham, 20-year-old striker Abraham, who is currently at Swansea, 19-year-old Ademola Lookman and 19-year-old Liverpool midfielder Ejaria to commit their international futures to Nigeria, but nothing came out of the efforts.
Although the England U-21 team players have pledged their international commitments to the country where they were born and raised, England U-21s manager Aidy Boothroyd admits they are facing uncertainty over the international future of some of England’s best junior players.
England on Thursday beat Slovenia 1-0 at Wembley to qualify for the World Cup.
The Telegraph quoted Boothroyd as saying on Friday, “Nigeria are trying to get as many players as they can and you can’t blame them because we’ve got some good players.
“There was talk about Tammy, while Sheyi Ojo is another and they might still be trying (to make him represent Nigeria at senior level), you just don’t know. It’s a hard one because I can’t guarantee they are going to play because the group is so good.”
The 46-year-old former Watford manager added, “But these are lads that have played for England and have an affinity with us and a relationship. There is a pathway and I can always pick the phone up and speak to them.”
You can understand England’s fear as Iwobi, who scored Nigeria’s winning goal, as well as Victor Moses and Ola Aina were once England youth players