Nigeria Football Federation boss Amaju Pinnick is adamant Tammy Abraham’s snub will not leave Nigeria short of strikers, tipping Lille forward Victor James Osimhen, 21, and Netherlands-based Cyriel Dessers, 25, to carry the nation’s hopes.
Nigeria had hoped the Chelsea star would choose his dad’s homeland ahead of his country of birth, England. Instead, the 22-year-old opted for a career with the ‘Three Lions’.
However, Pinnick insists the Europe-based duo of Osimhen and Dessers’ burgeoning club careers are indicators that they have the steel to steer Nigeria to glory.
Already, 21-year-old Osimhen has enjoyed a bright start to his senior international career, netting four goals in nine games.
The France-based Osimhen has been outstanding for his club, managing 13 goals in 27 games.
The Belgian-born Dessers has scored 15 goals in 25 outings for his Eredivisie side Herecles Almelo.
“When we have people like Dessers who was even selected among the Eredivisie Team of the Season, I think we’re happy and we’re home. Prolific goalscorer.
“We have Osimhen who is doing very well, I can’t tell you that Tammy Abraham is better than Osimhen, it’s not possible.
“Let us watch and see the future of these players, we are happy and very contented with what we have right now, the only thing we need to do is consolidate and build a very strong Super Eagles that can contest for the qualifying rounds and World Cup proper, we have a very young team,” Pinnick said.
Reports are that Pinnick tried courting Abraham and his Blues teammate Fikayo Tomori to play for Nigeria before they became cap-tied to the Three Lions after featuring in competitive games against Czech Republic and Kosovo respectively in 2019.
Pinnick is said to be a close friend of Abraham’s dad, but that wasn’t enough to sway the talented 22-year-old.
“I’m very close to Tammy Abraham’s father, we grew up together, I’ve known him for over 40 years.
“I know the history of Tammy but if at the end of the day he decides to play for England we just wish him only good luck, Tomori too we wish him good luck,” he said.
Previously, the NFF president has successfully convinced Chelsea academy product, Ola Aina, Lokomotiv Moscow’s Bryan Idowu and Benfica’s Tyronne Ebuehi to pledge allegiance to Nigeria.
Tottenham Hotspur’s Dele Alli and Chelsea midfielder Ross Barkley are other players in the England squad that were eligible to represent Nigeria before playing cap-tying games.
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By Mthokozisi Dube