TSG Hoffenhiem of Germany defender, Kevin Akpoguma is likely to get his international debut with the Super Eagles’ in Friday’s friendly against Algeria, as the former Germany under-20 national team captain has been cleared by global governing body, FIFA, for him to switch allegiance.
Megasportsarena.com gathered that Akpoguma, who represented Germany from under-16 to under-21 levels, announced his desire to switch allegiance to Nigeria at the beginning of this year, and his application has eventually been approved by FIFA.
He was captain of Germany’s youth team that beat Nigeria’s Flying Eagles 1-0 in the round of 16 at the 2015 FIFA U-20 World Cup in New Zealand, but lost 4-3 on penalties to Mali following a 1-1 end to extra time in the quarter-finals.
The 25-year old centre-back, who made 18 league appearances for Die Kraichgauer last season and already has three for Hoffenheim this term, arrived the Eagles’ camp on Sunday, with an initial intention to merely familiarize himself with the other players, but FIFA’s verdict means he can now step into the game proper.
On receiving news about his official clearance for a change of nationality by FIFA, Akpoguma quickly got down to brass tact with the squad on Tuesday, as the Eagles stepped up their drills for Friday’s game against Algeria and four days after against Tunisia at same venue.
The last set of arrivals to the Nigerian camp were skipper of the side, Ahmed Musa, from Al-Nassr of Saudi Arabia, and Paul Onuachu from Club Brugge of Belgium, who both sauntered into the team’s base at Hotel Die Ziet on Tuesday.
The 26-year-old Onuachu, who has scored seven goals for Club Brugge of Belgium this season, was a late replacement for SSC Napoli of Italy striker, Victor Osimhen, who was stopped by his club from making the trip to Austria because of quarantine that was order for the club after two of their players contracted coronavirus.
Musa and Onuachu, though, missed the team’s first training session earlier in the day, as they hit camp later in the afternoon, thereby completing the roll call of 24 players from the original list of 25 invitees, from which three were forced to withdraw, while a fourth goalkeeper, Tobias Okiki Lawal has been called in as back-up from a club in Austria.
The inclusions of Akpoguma and Lawal take the total number of players in camp to 26, with great expectations now high that Wednesday’s training sessions will be tighter and tougher, more than what happened on Tuesday morning, when the drills lasted for approximately one and a half hours.
FC Twente of Holland’s summer signing, Tyronne Ebuehi had earlier been called up to replace injured Leicester City of England midfielder, Wilfred Onyinyen Ndidi, but Eagles’ coach, Gernot Rohr opted not to invite any player in place of Gaka6tasaray of Turkey loan arrival, Oghenekaro Etebo, who got injured in a Turkish Super Lig fixture on Sunday.
The Eagles will this Friday file out against the team that beat them during the semi-finals of last year’s Africa Cup of Nations in Egypt and are the continent’s current champions, with the game billed for Jacques Lemans Arena in Klagenfurt, Austria, where the Nigerians will also face Tunisia on Tuesday; but both matches organized by Eurodata Sport will be played behind closed doors.