FC Basel of Switzerland’s Nigerian-born forward, Noah Okafor has received an accelerated debut for the country of his birth, as the Swiss soccer governing moved fast to block him from his parents nation.
With Nigeria Football Federation (NFF) having stepped up efforts to get Okafor into the Super Eagles, Switzerland took the bull by the horn with his inclusion in their squad for the European Nations League third place match against England, and gave him only three minutes in added time.
While another Nigerian-born star, Manuel Akanji was on for the duration of the same match, Okafor got off the bench in the 113th minute as a replacement for Haris Seferović at Estádio Dom Afonso Henriques in Guimarães, Portugal on Sunday.
Although the few minutes Okafor spent on the pitch were not enough for him to get any rating from the match, the Swiss had done just enough to ensure he remains cap-tied forever to the country of his birth.
Switzerland’s officials will feel high on a huge achievement, considering that Okafor had an outstanding season for Basel, leaving him under the summer transfer radar of top clubs in the English Premier League and German Bundesliga.
He now joins Akanji, Innocent Emeghara and Eseosa Aigbogun as lads who had been eligible to represent Nigeria but are now cap-tied to Switzerland, and will now aim for better outings in months to come.
The citation for him on Sunday read: “Did well to provide an outlet on the wing for Switzerland to escape the England pressure late on.”
On the other hand, Akanji, who once dazzled against Manchester United in the Europa League, got six points out of ten for his efforts in the game that Switzerland lost to Gareth Southgate’s Three Lions of England.
The citation for Akanji read: “Had a physical battle with Kane throughout the afternoon but gave as good as he got. Was out-muscled by Wilson for England’s ‘goal’ at the end of normal time but VAR came to his rescue.”