Nigeria coach Gernot Rohr is reportedly set to battle it with the Nigeria Football Federation over teenage forward Tammy Abraham.
England Under-21 striker Abraham has emerged as one of the hottest young properties in English football after scoring five Premier League goals for Swansea City on his season-long loan from Chelsea this season.
The 20-year-old, whose father comes from Nigeria, has not been capped by England at senior level, meaning he is still eligible to play for the Super Eagles.
NFF president Amaju Pinnick claimed last month that Abraham had agreed to play for Nigeria, but the player denied that the NFF had yet to contact him with regard to playing for Nigeria and pledged his international allegiance to England.
A Punch correspondent learnt that the NFF decided to go after Abraham after Rohr, who is a fan of the pacey and energetic London-born striker, told them that he wanted him for the Russia 2018 World Cup.
A correspondent learnt that the NFF was rocked by Abraham’s statement, with some of the top officials of the federation allegedly vowing to ensure that the player is never allowed to don the national colours even when he makes a u-turn on England.
Rohr is said to be insistent on having Abraham as he believes involving the young striker would boost his striking options in Russia as Nigeria seek to make a bold statement in their sixth World Cup appearance.
German manager Rohr is said to have been encouraged to have Abraham in his World Cup plans after the player, whose father comes from Delta State, opened his door to Nigeria switch after the Eagles qualified for the World Cup following their 1-0 victory over Zambia in Uyo on October 7.
“There are a lot of things going on. For me that is a sign you are doing something right if Nigeria are fighting for you and England want you as well,” Abraham was quoted by The Mirror as saying last week.
“I’m happy right now and just want to keep playing my football. Nothing has happened. I’m not too sure what is going on.”
But Rohr’s employers are said to be opposed to the player representing Nigeria at the World Cup and have reportedly told him that they don’t want Abraham on his list.
Spokesman for the NFF Ademola Olajire, who refused to confirm or deny whether Abraham would be invited by Rohr for the World Cup, however insisted the player agreed to switch his international allegiance from England to Nigeria.
Olajire said the federation would not force any player on Rohr, saying the former Burkina Faso coach would be allowed to select his squad for the World Cup.
“The NFF does not have any player in mind for the World Cup, it’s not our job to invite any player,” the federation chief told a correspondent on the telephone on Monday.
“Rohr is in charge of the team and he is the only person who can invite any player.”