With the victory over Egypt, the three-time African champions put an end to a difficult period in their campaign and may have won over another England-born footballer.
Nathan Tella, a Southampton midfielder, believes he is ready to represent his country at the international level and has admitted that it would be a ‘dream’ to represent Nigeria in the national team’s famed green and white colors.
The ongoing 2021 Africa Cup of Nations competition in Cameroon may have played a key impact in the 22-year-choice old’s to make such a significant life change, according to some reports.
With Egypt’s captain Mohamed Salah enjoying widespread popularity in the Premier League, many Premier League spectators tuned in to Nigeria’s first group game of the championship, where the Liverpool star was expected to run riot in Garoua.
The Super Eagles, on the other hand, became the darling of many after putting on an outstanding display to shock the seven-time African winners and their renowned talisman.
Despite his commitments to Southampton, Tella confesses he has been keeping an eye on the Afcon because of Nigeria and his teammate Moussa Djenepo, who was in action when Mali defeated Tunisia despite a number of refereeing errors.
Tella, who was born in England to Nigerian parents, is eligible to play for the Nigerian national team.
Because he has never represented any of England’s youth teams, the versatile forward will not be subjected to any of the change of nationality procedures that prevented Ademola Lookman from qualifying for the Africa Cup of Nations.
Tella is motivated by the accomplishments of Che Adams, who represented Scotland in the Euros last year, and believes that playing for his country will help him become a stronger player overall.
“I would love to play international football,” Tella told HampshireLive.
“That’s always been a dream of mine. If I went away with Nigeria, it would be something new and new experiences bring out the best in players.
“When I look at Che, I see that he has come back from Scotland as a more mature player. There is no reason why I can’t do that; come back a more mature person.
“Whatever happens in the future, I am just focussed on being here and, yes, trying to score goals and help the team win and progress.”
He continued: “I’m always keeping an eye on AFCON. I’m Nigerian, so I always want to focus and watch the games.
“Obviously, when I have any of my teammates (Moussa Djenepo, Mali) out there, I really want to know how they do.
“I’m happy he won yesterday, despite the ending, but it was good that he was able to win, and I wish him all the best.”
Tella has played in a variety of positions for Southampton this season, ranging from striker to right-back. His versatility could prove to be an asset to the national team’s management.
To obtain a callup to the Super Eagles, though, would be difficult due to the fact that the former Afcon champions have great players in practically every department, particularly in attack.