Jostling for African footballers

The increasing emergence of talented, young footballers who have their roots in Africa but have been schooled in Europe is creating friction between the two continents.

The increasing emergence of talented, young footballers who have their roots in Africa but have been schooled in Europe is creating friction between the two continents.

African and European countries are jostling to persuade several prodigious players to commit their international futures to their respective causes, in most cases causing an emotive pull on the heart strings.

In recent weeks there have been accusations of underhand dealings and a growing animosity as countries turn up the pressure for the best talent.

Ibrahim Afellay of PSV Eindhoven, for example, is the subject of a tense tussle between Morocco and the Netherlands.

The promising midfielder, born in the Netherlands to immigrant parents, has played for the Dutch at junior level but can still, before his 21st birthday in April, opt to play for Morocco.

Fifa regulations allow players with dual nationality to change their international allegiance before the age of 21 if they have not won a full international cap.

Afellay recently told Dutch television he was still undecided despite persistent wooing by Netherlands' coach, Marco van Basten and his Moroccan counterpart, Mohamed Fakhir. - Reuters

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