*Holds talks with Idowu in Russia
Olawale Ajimotokan in Abuja
The desire of Super Eagles coach, Gernot Rohr, to integrate young footballers of Nigerian heritage into the Super Eagles fold ahead of the 2018 World Cup in Russia has got a big boost after the coach said he held positive talks with the father of Ola Aina in London.
Rohr also confirmed holding talks with the prodigiously talented Brian Oladapo Idowu, who plays in Russia for FC Amkar Perm.
Aina is with Chelsea and has already represented England at all junior phases, including U-16 and U-20 and has the potential to step up into the Three Lions.
The right fullback, who made his first team appearance on July 19, 2014, in a pre-season friendly against Wimblebon, was given his professional debut by manager Antonio Conte in a 3–2 victory over Bristol Rovers in the English Football League Cup on August 23, 2016.
He made his Premier League debut in a 3–0 victory over champions Leicester City, when he replaced Victor Moses towards the end of the match.
The London-born player is eligible to play for Nigeria given that he is yet to be capped in competitive game by England in addition to the fact that his two parents are of Nigerian origin.
Rohr revealed last night that he met with Aina’s father while in London recently for exploratory talks with Nigerian players and their EPL club managers.
The prospect of the Eagles switch was broached during the talks, though THISDAY learnt that Rohr, who was appointed Eagles manager in August, had placed Aina on his radar and even sent an emissary to convince the talented defender into buying his philosophy.
The German finally succeeded when he met the player’s father to discuss the Eagles proposition in London.
He admitted to getting encouraging signals from Aina’s father, who asked him to hold on and give the family more time to consider the offer of international switch on the table.
THISDAY also learnt that Aina was also positive after a separate meeting Rohr and was said to be pondering on all options.
The 24- year-old Idowu, who is also a defender also discussed with the Eagles coach and was similarly upbeat about the prospect of representing the Nigerian national team.
Idowu was born in St Petersburg and has a Russian mother who is medical doctor. He plays in the same club as another Nigerian international, Fegor Ogude.
Meanwhile, Rohr is billed to offer technical assistance to the Super Falcons in their bid to win their eighth Africa Women Championship in Cameroun.
The Falcons will play in Group B against Mali, Kenya and Ghana in the tournament which begins on Saturday.
It was further learnt that Rohr, who visited the team’s training sessions in Abuja before they left Nigeria, will join the team coached by Florence Omagbemi midway into the AWC campaign from his vacation in France.