ST.JOHN’S, Canada— Canada’s in-person pitch to Ayo Akinola has been put on pause once again as the Toronto FC frontman has been forced to miss out on the ongoing Canadian training camp due to medical reasons, the CSA announced Thursday afternoon.
Akinola is one of four players who is dealing with injury and unable to attend the camp, a Canadian team spokesman said.
Born in Detroit but raised in Brampton for most of his childhood, Akinola is eligible for both the American and Canadian teams.
After a breakout 2020 season with the Reds, one which saw him score nine times in sixteen appearances, the 20-year-old’s international services became coveted by both Canada and the United States.
Having featured and scored for the US last month in a friendly against El Salvador, some soccer supporters north of the border assumed the TFC talisman had made his decision before he was named to Canada’s January camp.
While many were surprised to see Akinola’s name within the recent Canada squad, head coach John Herdman has suggested the youngster's decision to attend was already made this past summer.
‘We’ve been talking since July, seriously since July about this January opportunity,” Herdman said via a virtual media call on Thursday. “ And he (Akinola) was excited, through the Christmas period we had quite a few connects.”
Despite the disappointment of both Herdman and Akinola regarding the latter’s absence, the setback shouldn’t be viewed as the deciding factor on who the former American youth player will suit up for at the senior level.
With the date and location for the upcoming Concacaf Olympic qualifiers decided, the highly sought-after striker might have to make his decision sooner rather than later if he hopes to join either Canada or the United States on the path to Tokyo.
As previously reported, Liam Fraser is also going to be missing the camp due to a minor ankle injury. TFC youngsters Jacob Shaffelburg and Jahkeele Marshall-Rutty—the youngest player ever invited to a Canadian men’s national team camp—were among those added in their place.