NFF set to battle Arsenal over Iwobi, as Siasia tries Charlton’s Obileye
The Nigeria Football Federation (NFF) may be heading for a showdown with English Premiership club, Arsenal, over the release of Alex Iwobi for the Rio 2016 Olympic Gamers.
Iwobi recently emerged as an important member of the Arsenal first team set up and reports say Arsenal Wenger is reluctant to release the 19-year-old forward to Samson Siasia’s Olympic team.
If Iwobi plays at the Olympics, which holds in August, it means he will miss Arsenal’s pre-season preparation and the early part of the 2016/2017 season.
Iwobi had told Skysports television that he wants to play for Nigeria at the Rio Olympic Games in Brazil but that the decision is for Wenger to say whether he goes or rest before their pre-season tour.
“I’ll love to play at the Rio Olympics since my country has listed me for the games but Arsene has the final say on my going. If he wants me to rest ahead of the pre-season, it means I might not make it but I want to play,” Iwobi said.
However, NFF President, Amaju Pinnick, has assured that the federation would go the extra mile to ensure that Iwobi and other invited overseas-based players are made available to play for Nigeria at the Rio Olympic Games in Brazil.
“I will talk to Arsene on the need to release Iwobi for our Olympic team,” Pinnick said. “We shall do everything possible to get all the players listed for the Olympics released by their respective clubs. Since the Olympics will come up during the off season, I don’t anticipate any problem, but we shall try and talk the clubs to understand.”
Meanwhile, Nigeria’s Olympics Coach, Samson Siasia, may include Charlton Athletic defender, Ayo Obileye, in his team to Rio if the player made good the opportunity given to hi to train with the team.
Born at Homerton Hospital in Hackney, the center back is eligible to represent the national teams of England and Nigeria but has stated that his priority is to play for the land of his fathers.
Siasia has been observing Obileye at close quarters since Monday when he arrived in Abuja from the United Kingdom.
“I have been in Abuja since Monday with the Under-23s in camp. Training has been great,” Obileye told a local website.
The 21-year-old Obileye models his game after former Tottenham Hotspur skipper Ledley King and retired England star Rio Ferdinand, while his favourite Nigerian defenders are Joseph Yobo and Kenneth Omeruo.
He was the captain of Sheffield Wednesday’s youth team before penning a deal with the Addicks.