Minister of Sports Sunday Dare has revealed he often mandates Nigeria Football Federation (NFF) president Amaju Pinnick to travel round the world to convince players of Nigerian heritage to play for the Super Eagles.
The minister made the revelation at the unveiling of the new logo and brand ambassadors of the National Principals’ Cup in Lagos on Monday.
The senior national football team has, in the one year of Dare’s tenure as Sports Minister, witnessed an influx of foreign-born Nigerians who have made the switch from their countries of birth to either play for or pledge their allegiance to the Super Eagles.
NFF president Pinnick has often been cited as a major reason why foreign-born stars such as Belgian-born Cyriel Dessers and German-born duo Kevin Akpoguma and Maduka Okoye have opted for Nigeria instead their birth countries.
But Dare stated that Pinnick’s effort to get Nigerians in diaspora to play for the country were done under his direction.
Not all of Pinnick’s efforts have been successful, however, as witnessed by the high profile failed pursuit of Chelsea duo Tammy Abraham and Fikayo Tomori.
Also, England-born youngsters Eberechi Eze and Arsenal’s Bukayo Saka have so far demurred in declaring for the Super Eagles despite Pinnick’s best efforts.
Making the case for the fundamental importance of the Principals’ Cup, Dare said the competition will ensure a steady pipeline of talent for the senior national team thereby reducing the need to have to convince foreign-born players of Nigerian heritage to play for the country.
And the minister said, the revamping of the tournament should gladden Pinnick who he has often had to ask to convince a number of players to switch to the Super Eagles.
“I am particularly glad that we are revamping the National Principals’ Cup,” Dare said.
“But there is one other person who should be just as glad and that is NFF president Amaju Pinnick who I have often had to ask to hop on planes to convince players like [Bukayo] Saka to play for us.
” This tournament will help us discover future stars like in the days of old when the likes of Daniel Amokachi, Stephen Keshi and Samson Siasia passed through the competition.”
The event also saw Super Eagles greats Joseph Disu and Amokachi unveiled as Principals’ Cup Ambassadors alongside track legend Mary Onyali.