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Last Updated: Thursday, 20 May, 2004, 10:35 GMT 11:35 UK
Nigeria chase Cole
By Oluwashina Okeleji
BBC Sport, Lagos

Charlton Athletics Carlton Cole
Charlton Athletics Carlton Cole is a target for Nigeria

Nigeria manager Christian Chukwu says he is keen on having England-based striker Carlton Cole play for the Super Eagles.

Cole, who is currently on loan to Chelsea from Charlton Athletic, has already featured for England's under-21 side but could switch allegiance to Nigeria under new Fifa rules.

Fifa rules state that a footballer capped at junior level can represent another country at senior level as long as he possesses dual nationality.

Chukwu is hoping to persuade Cole to play in the Unity Cup tournament involving Jamaica and the Republic of Ireland and Nigeria's subsequent 2006 World Cup and African Cup of Nations qualifying campaign.

"We hope to talk to him when we get to London for the Unity Cup.

Just like Shola Ameobi we are hoping that with the new Fifa rule, he can change his mind," Chukwu told BBC Sport.

Carlton Cole Okirie [his full name] has a Sierra-Leonean mother but his father comes from Omoku in Nigeria's Rivers State.

The 21-year-old had apparently been keen on playing for Nigeria in the past but accepted an England under-21 call-up when he felt he had been overlooked by the Super Eagles.

"It must be hard on him when he felt he was ignored, but I hope to talk to him and make him understand he has a chance to prove himself as the World Cup qualifiers draw near," Chukwu explained.

The Nigeria coach is worried about the withdrawal of several strikers from the Unity Cup.

Kanu Nwankwo, Julius Aghahowa and Yakubu Ayegbeni have all turned down invitations.

"It's a warm up for our important qualifying games but we hope to see what happens after the games in London."

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11 May 04  |  African
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08 May 04  |  African

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