The FIFA Russia 2018 World Cup may just be 8 months away, but one starts to feel the world cup fever at the commencement of the qualifiers stage. It is usually during this stage that names start flying around as to who should represent the respective nations vying for a place in the global football fiesta. With Nigeria, “blessed” with footballers in diaspora, it’s never out of place for one to hear the names of players, some of which have never stepped into the shores of Nigeria, on the lips of many Nigerian fans. In this particular period, one of such names stand out for Nigeria — Tammy Abraham.
The quality of the just turned 20-year-old Chelsea loanee should never be put in question. Let me put this in Nigerian perspective.
At the age of 19, Tammy Abraham was already painting England with goals in the Championship 2016/17 season. Then with Bristol City, he scored 23 goals and made 3 assists from 41 appearances. Bringing a familiar Nigerian footballer to draw a logical comparison, Odion Ighalo at age 23, then at Watford FC in the Championship 2014/15 season, scored 20 goals, and made 3 assists from 34 appearances. Ighalo continued from there the following season, as the top scorer for his club in England’s first-tier, a similar path Abraham is currently threading on, with Swansea City.
With the above whoscored.com stats comparison in mind, one can argue that as it stands, Abraham can walk into the Super Eagles team and at least make the bench. With the potentials he has demonstrated so far against top sides like Arsenal in the English Premier League, it is certain that he would be a solid option for Nigeria going into the future — a future that will likely not come to be considering the way the matter of his international switch was handled by the NFF supremo, Chief Amaju Pinnick.
Granted, the chairman of the NFF had never been seen or heard beaming with confidence as regards player allegiance-switch matters. Nevertheless, in this one, the chairman considered his relationship with Tammy Abraham’s father a leverage, and mapped out a strategy to perfect convincing Tammy to opt for Nigeria instead. According to Amaju Pinnick’s statment as found in NFF’s official website, he had a meeting with the boy’s agent and his father, and also a senior member of the Super Eagles called in lend his support. However, the chairman’s public utterances in the tune of an early victory song, branded it a war against England for Tammy Abraham. This placed the English Press and FA on alert.
Subsequently, Tammy Abraham’s name was first on the list published by the English FA for players invited by senior team coach, Gareth Southgate, to prosecute England’s international friendly games with Germany and Brazil this November. With this just announced maiden call up, Nigeria is set to go into another round of guessing — will Tammy Abraham be cap-tied eventually?