Toronto FC striker Akinola ditches Nigeria & USA for Canada

Toronto FC striker Akinola ditches Nigeria & USA for Canada


The 21-year-old, initially eligible to play for three countries, has chosen the team he wants to represent on the international scene

Toronto FC forward Ayo Akinola has snubbed Nigeria and the United States of America to commit his international future to Canada.

Akinola was eligible to play for the Super Eagles through his father’s origin and USA which was his place of birth.

He was approached by the Nigeria Football Federation a few years ago, but he was invited to the United States national team last year and he made a goalscoring debut in their 6-0 thrashing of El Salvador in December 2020.

The 21-year-old’s change of nationality was approved on Wednesday and he is set to play for Canada at the 2021 Concacaf Gold Cup later this month.

“I’m really excited to represent Canada at the international level,”Akinola told the Canadian FA website. “It’s a very exciting time for the country with all the quality that’s on the roster.

“Canada has been my home for almost all my life and I’m excited to give back. I’m ready to give my best for Canada soccer’s men’s national team in these crucial months coming up.”

Akinola previously played for the United States youth teams before his only outing with their senior national team last December.

However, he is set for a quick reunion with his former country as Canada and the Yanks are placed in Group B in this year’s Concacaf Gold Cup.

Both countries will battle each other at the Children’s Mercy Park on July 18.

Meanwhile, Canada coach John Herdman is thrilled by the quality Akinola who is Toronto’s second-highest goalscorer this season will add to his team. He is also expected to boost their attacking options as they target qualification for the 2022 Fifa World Cup in Qatar.

“It’s great news, we’ve been working for the last 18 months to bring Ayo home to play for Canada,” Herdman said.

“He’s excited to get going and I’m looking forward to immersing him into the men’s national team environment.”

Akinola has scored two goals so far in nine games for the Reds who sit 13th in the Major League Soccer table.

The Michigan-born star has spent his professional career at Toronto FC after developing through the club’s youth academy as a teenager.

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