Top Youngsters Eligble To Represent African Countries
FIFA allows players to switch national teams provided that they meet certain eligibility criteria, such as having citizenship of the country they wish to represent and many more.
●17th March 2023
The continent of Africa is blessed with a plethora of football talents and that has contributed to its status as a giant in world football. Africa has been producing many talented footballers for many years. Many African countries have a strong football culture and produce players who are technically skilled, physically strong, and have a passion for the sport.
Some of the most famous African footballers include Didier Drogba from Ivory Coast, Samuel Eto’o from Cameroon, Yaya Toure from Ivory Coast, Kanu Nwankwo and Jay-Jay Okocha from Nigeria, George Weah from Liberia, and Abedi Pele from Ghana. These players have achieved great success in both domestic and international competitions, and have become icons for African football.
Additionally, many current top footballers playing in Europe and other parts of the world are from Africa, including Mohamed Salah from Egypt, Sadio Mane from Senegal, Riyad Mahrez from Algeria, and Victor Osimhen from Nigeria. Overall, Africa has a strong footballing tradition and continues to produce talented players who make a significant impact on the sport.
Despite having homegrown talents, African teams still have the opportunity to poach players of African descents born abroad. Due to the rise of immigration, we have seen a lot of Africans leave their countries for Europe and the Americas for greener pastures.
Many players have switched to play for African countries over the years. There are various reasons why a player might switch their international allegiance, such as having dual nationality, not being able to break into the national team of their country of birth, or having a strong connection to their family’s country of origin.
FIFA allows players to switch national teams provided that they meet certain eligibility criteria, such as having citizenship of the country they wish to represent, not having played for another national team in an official competition, and having a clear connection to the country they wish to represent.
It’s difficult to give an exact number of players who have switched to play for African countries, as there have been many cases over the years. However, some notable examples include:
Wilfried Zaha: Born in Ivory Coast, Zaha played for England at youth level before switching to play for Ivory Coast in 2016.
Hakim Ziyech: Born in the Netherlands to Moroccan parents, Ziyech chose to represent Morocco at international level and has been a key player for them since 2015.
Alex Iwobi: Born in Nigeria but raised in England, Iwobi represented England at youth level before switching to play for Nigeria in 2015.
Victor Moses: Born in Nigeria, Moses represented England at youth level before switching to play for Nigeria in 2012.
These are just a few examples, but there have been many more players who have switched to play for African countries over the years. However, BOUNCE profiles footballers with top potentials and are eligible to play for African national teams:
Folarin Balogun – Striker – 21 Yrs (Arsenal/Stade de Reims):
The 21-year-old Arsenal owned player is enjoying himself to the fullest while on loan at Reims in France. In 26 League UberEats outings this season, he has 16 goals scored. Balogun is qualified to play for Nigeria, England, and the United States. But, despite playing for England at the youth level, the young man still maintains ties to his Nigerian heritage.
Additionally, with Dessers and Onuachu expected to be in their 30s by the time the next World Cup rolls around, Balogun might team up with Osimhen and Moffi to form a terrifying trident at that Mundial. He has hinted that he could change his country of allegiance in response to being left out of the inaugural England squad of 2023.
The 22-year-old can play for the Black Stars, having qualified through his parents who are from Ghana. Despite making three senior apperances for England, he still has the option of changing his allegiance.
Since he gained all three of those caps before turning 21, he remains eligible to represent another country if he so chooses. He last played for the Three Lions in a 4-0 win over Kosovo in a Euro 2020 qualifying match. Gareth Southgate had selected him in the team due to late injuries to key players.
Benjamin Njongoue Elliott – Winger – 22 Yrs (Chelsea U21s):
Born in Kingston upon Thames, Elliott is eligible to represent both England and Cameroon at international level. He has represented England at under-15 and under-16 level, captaining the under-15 side. Ahead of March 2023 AFCON Qualifier, Elliott has been called up to the Cameroon senior squad (Indomitable Lions). Ben Elliott has been among Chelsea’s most promising Under 21 stars this season.
El Chadaille Bitshiabu – Centre-Back – 18 Yrs (Paris Saint Germain):
The towering center-back was a rock at the heart of the France backline during the U-17 Euros held in Israel. Bitshiabu who is of DR Congolese descent. has already featured for Paris Saint Germain eight times this season.
Elyaz Zidane – Left-Back – 18 Yrs (Real Madrid B ):
Elyaz Zidane, the son of Zinedine Zidane, has a lot to live up to, but he’s used to challenging situations after rising through the ranks at Real Madrid. Eligible for both Algeria and Spain, Zidane jr turned out for France at the U-17 Euros, and while he’s the youngest of Zidane’s four boys, he may turn out to be the most exciting.