The National Team management is still awaiting final confirmation on whether Aston Villa defender Jlloyd Samuel is eligible to represent this country’s senior team in the upcoming 2006 World Cup qualifier against Bahrain.
Following his expressed interest in representing T&T, it was then brought to the TTFF’s knowledge following a correspondence from Aston Villa football club, that Samuel would not be able to make the switch due to an article in the FIFA statutes which states that any player of dual citizenship who has represented a country at a younger age group must make his request to play for another country by age turning 21. Villa is claiming that the 24-year-old Samuel who has represented England at the Under 21 and Under 18 levels, is as such not eligible for T&T.
However, it has since been noted that a new FIFA ruling introduced in 2004 could yet make Samuel a new “Warrior”.
This new ruling allowed Freddie Kanoute to play for Mali’s senior team despite having represented France at the Under 21 level. Kanoute’s switch was made at the age of 26.
Back then, World football’s governing body said in a statement that Kanoute, Mohamed Lamine Sissoko, both from Mali, as well as Lamine Sakho of Senegal were given the green light to play for the African sides.
The switch was allowed under new rules introduced by FIFA in October 2003, allowing under-21-year-olds with dual nationality to switch national sides under certain conditions. The ruling makes the players eligible to take part in the African Nations Cup, a FIFA spokesman said, in Tunisia from January 24 to February 14.
Under a new FIFA ruling which will come into force on January (2004), in order to change allegiances from France to Mali, Kanoute must have sent a 'written and substantiated request to the FIFA general secretariat' for approval by the players' status committee.
English-based agent Mike Berry is currently looking into the matter and Samuel continues to keep his fingers crossed.
“It’s my wish to play for Trinidad and Tobago and try to help them qualify for a World Cup. I have made up my mind to play for them and hopefully once things can be finalized, I’ll get the chance to do so,” Samuel told TTFF Media.