NFF to Assist Nwakali over Visa Issue

Kelechi Nwakali

Kelechi Nwakali

The Nigeria Football Federation (NFF) has said that it is working hard to secure the visa that will enable stranded youth international Kelechi Nwakali to return to Portugal.

The 20-year-old Arsenal midfielder, who is on loan at FC Porto’s B team, is unable to leave Nigeria almost a month after playing in a qualifier for the 2020 Olympic men’s football tournament.

Officials confirmed that Nwakali was in Portugal on a single-entry visa and so now needs a renewal to return after he played on 25 March, however, the process is taking longer than they hoped.

“The federation has been working hard to get his visa sorted as quickly as possible, but it’s taken longer than expected,” NFF’s Director of Communications, Ademola Olajire told BBC Sport.

“We hope it will come out after the Easter break to enable Nwakali return to Portugal.”

He has made 16 appearances this season for Porto’s reserve side, who play in the second tier of Portuguese football, but has now missed the club’s last four league matches.

A 2015 FIFA Under-17 World Cup and Golden boot winner, Nwakali was snapped up by Arsenal in August 2016 as the Gunners beat a string of Europe’s leading sides, including Manchester City, German, Dutch and Spanish clubs to his signing.

He spent time on loan at Dutch clubs VVV-Venlo and MVV Maastricht [two loan spells] between 2016 and 2018 but struggled to make a major impact, before moving to Porto in July 2018.

Back in August, he earned a call-up to the senior Nigeria squad for the 2019 Africa Cup of Nations qualifier in Seychelles, but did not play.

Nwakali did play for a Nigeria XI in a friendly against Spanish club Atletico Madrid five months before.

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