Fifa law swings Africa’s way

2009-12-13 12:21

A FIFA statute that allows players to change nationality despite

having represented another country at junior level, could play a vital role for

African teams as they prepare for the World Cup next year.

After the law came into effect in 2004, most African countries

launched campaigns to lure back home their players in foreign countries, and the

plan remains intact as the kick-off of the biggest soccer spectacle in the world

draws nearer.

Ghana, who have been drawn in Group D with Germany, Australia and

Serbia, are working tireless to entice Inter Milan and Italy Under-21 striker

Mario Balotelli to turn out for the Black Stars.

The 19-year-old striker was born in ­Palermo of Ghananian parents

and was adopted by an Italian family at a tender age.

Since playing for for the Milan-based outfit, Balotelli has been

subjected to ­racial discrimination from the Italians.

However, his contribution at San Siro has earned him a lot of

praise from Ghana national coach Milovan ­Rajevac, who flew to Italy to meet him

after the draw in Cape Town last week.

Rajevac is reported to be full of praise for the player.

With the African Cup of Nations in ­Angola looming, Cameroon wants

to convince two French Under-21 internationals, David N’Gog and Gaetang Bong, to

feature for the Indomitable Lions at the continental showpiece in January and

the World Cup five months later.

N’Gog, the 20 year-old midfield-cum-striker who currently plays for

Liverpool, was born in France to a Cameroonian ­father and a French mother.

He represented Les Bleus at junior levels and coach Raymond

Domenech is said to have set his sights on the player, something that should

force coach Paul Le Guen and the Cameroon Football Association to speed up their

bid for his services.

Also on the wanted list is the La Championnat’s club Valeciennes

defender ­Gaetang Bong, who has also donned France’s Under-21 jersey.

Bong is respected for his ability to ­marshal the defence, which

could be vital to the Lions in the absence of the ­experienced campaigner and

captain ­Rigobert Song. After edging out African champions Egypt, Algeria wants

to bolster their World Cup team with the services of French Under-21 creative

midfielder ­Sofiane Feghouli.

The 19-year-old has been shortlisted for the national teams of

France and the Desert Foxes. Coach Rabah Saadane has tasked captain Yazid

Mansouri to call the youngster to play for the Algiers side.

Nigeria has often attempted to lure back home Manchester City’s

defender Nedum Oduha to strengthen their sloppy defence.

But Oduha has expressed his desire to represent England, for whom

he played at Under-21 level, although the Super Eagles have continuously named

him in their squad.

Other African players

who have returned home.

Frederick Kanoute – Mali and Sevilla

Marouane Chamakh – Morocco and ­Bordeaux

Antar Yahia – Algeria and VFL Bochum

Osaze Peter Odemwingie – Nigeria and Lille

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