Declining The Nation’s Call: Nigeria Could Lose Imoh Ezekiel To Belgium

Ezekiel Imoh
Ezekiel Imoh

The issue of players Naturalising to other countries was recently brought to fore in the Nigerian media. Teenage goal scoring sensation, Imoh Ezekiel could soon be on the same part threaded by notable footballers, such as Emmanuel Olisadebe, Zinidane Zidane, the Great Eusebio just to name a few. Footballers who chose to respond to the call of a foreign country as opposed to their birth country.
Nigeria may be on the verge of losing Imoh Ezekiel to Belgium, following the player’s disclosure of intention to obtain Belgian citizenship to enable him feature for the European nation at international level.
The news was triggered by the Belgian press and further revelations have disclosed that the Standard Liege striker rejected invitation from coach John Obuh to play for Nigeria at the just concluded African Youth Championship in Algeria, and is set to reject future invitations to play for Nigeria at the FIFA U- 20 World Cup in Turkey.
As for the eligibility rule, a player is allowed to represent any national team as long as the player held citizenship of that country. In 2004, a new FIFA ruling permitted a player to represent one country at youth international level and another at senior international level, provided that the player applied before their 21st birthday.
Ezekiel’s intention to me does not warrant any course for alarm as he could go on and obtain his Belgian citizenship (provided he has ancestral connection with Belgium.) Meanwhile, it sounds somewhat disloyal for him to have revealed his plans not to return to Nigeria during the summer break in order to avoid being pressured to play for Nigeria.
But one must admit, that the 19- year- old Standard Liege top scorer is revered by many in Nigeria. His form this season have been impressive, with 15 goals in 25 games in the Belgian Jupiler Pro League. John Obuh was in his right frame of mind to have opted for the young lad, so were many in the country. Having said so, there are over one million Ezekiels in the country who could tap the round leather into the net if given the opportunity. Hope Imoh hasn’t blown his as much.
Many of our footballers had been there; still they wouldn’t reject the call to play for the senior national team when the time comes. Once more, I hope that isn’t what Ezekiel meant to the teaming football fans all over Nigeria. All being said and done, we can give Ezekiel that benefit of doubt, backtrack his progress with time, then watch which way he goes.
Sone Aluko, Victor Moses, Shola Ameobi had all been there, but came to terms with the right choice when asked to feature for the Super Eagles. Ezekiel’s intensions could be an aftermath of the challenges most of our upcoming footballers have always endured over time. Still they are for the better of it. We wish you well and hope you start dreaming of ‘your ‘motherland’ before your 21st birthday.’