Thursday, April 18, 2024

Peseiro Set To Hand Bayer Leverkusen Winger, Nathan Tella Debut

Bayer Leverkusen winger and new invitee to the Super Eagles, Nathan Tella has told BBC that  it would be “a dream come true” to make his debut for Nigeria in the 2026 Fifa World Cup qualifiers this week.

He is one of the 23 call-ups for the first two matches of Nigeria’s lengthy campaign to return to the World Cup.

Born in Lambeth, England, but eligible for Nigeria through his parents, his international future had been the subject of significant speculation since he first began to make an impression in the youth set-up at Arsenal.

“It’s always been about representing Nigeria,” Tella told BBC Sport Africa’s Oluwashina Okeleji.

“My family will be over the moon to watch me fulfill that dream.

“I am proud of my British and Nigerian sides and lucky to have both backgrounds. Of course we have both worlds, but ours is a proper Nigerian home [with] culture, food and tradition.”

Tella was one of the standout performers for Burnley last season as the Clarets earned promotion back to the Premier League, but he returned to parent club Southampton at the end of the campaign.

The forward, who is capable of playing either out wide or through the middle, had 22 goal contributions in the Championship last season and joined Leverkusen in a reported 20m Euros deal in August.

His new side are undefeated at the top of the German Bundesliga after 10 matches and his speed, dribbling and delivery into dangerous areas would, in theory, give the Super Eagles an added dimension in attack.

After missing out on the 2022 World Cup in Qatar, the West Africans kick off their qualifying campaign for 2026 against Lesotho and Zimbabwe on 16 and 19 November respectively.

Nigeria are expected to come through Group C ahead of the likes of South Africa and Benin, with the group winners guaranteed a spot in Canada, Mexico and the United States after the finals were expanded from 32 to 48 teams.

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