Pinnick: NFF Won’t Beg Saka to Play for Nigeria

BOREHAMWOOD, ENGLAND - SEPTEMBER 21: Bukayo Saka scores Arsenal's 1st goal under pressure from Adam Lewis of Liverpool during the match between Arsenal U23 and Liverpool U23 at Meadow Park on September 21, 2018 in Borehamwood, England. (Photo by David Price/Arsenal FC via Getty Images)

Nigeria Football Federation (NFF) president Amaju Pinnick has insisted the country is blessed with talent and will not beg Arsenal starlet Bukayo Saka or any player to represent the Super Eagles.

The 18-year-old has been in fine form since breaking into the Gunners first team and this season he has become a key member of Mikel Arteta’s side.

The versatile player has scored four goals and provided 11 assists in 37 appearances across all competitions for the Emirates Stadium outfit in the current campaign.

His stock has continued to rise following his eye-catching performances and he recently extended his contract to ward off other clubs who are interested in signing him.

The winger was born in England to Nigerian parents and has represented the European country at U16, U17, U18 and U19 levels but since he has not yet featured for the Three Lions, he is still eligible to switch his allegiance to the West Africans.

Pinnick has failed in the past to persuade Chelsea duo of Fikayo Tomori and Tammy Abraham to play for the Super Eagles.

The NFF boss made a number of trips to England to convince the players and despite his closeness to Abraham’s father, the striker went to play for the Three Lions.

Pinnick, however, has stated the federation will not plead with any player to don the Nigerian jersey and explained in the case of Saka, there are a number of quality players doing well for the Super Eagles in his position, although if he desires to play for the country he would be given an opportunity.

“Saka is an excellent prospect but we have other players in his position who are playing so well,” Pinnick said in an Instagram Live chat.

“We have talents everywhere so we won’t beg people to play for Nigeria. It is about ardour and fervour, If it’s their desire and they merit it, they’ll be given a chance to represent Nigeria.”
Nigeria are three-time African champions, after claiming the Africa Cup of Nations in 1980, 1994 and 2013.

The Super Eagles finished third in the 2019 edition of the competition in Egypt behind Senegal and Algeria who claimed the diadem.

The Eagles are currently top of Group L of the 2022 Africa Cup of Nations qualifiers with six points after victories over the Republic of Benin and Lesotho.