TORONTO, Canada—Ayo Akinola has finally chosen a national team to represent, as the Canadian forward will represent Canada starting this summer after his change of national associations was approved.
As MLS Multiplex’s Kristian Dyer reported this morning, the 21-year-old Toronto FC striker is set to be called up by the Canadian men’s national team for the upcoming CONCACAF Gold Cup in July.
“I’m really excited to represent Canada at the international level,” said Akinola in a press release. “It’s a very exciting time for the country with all the quality that’s on the roster. Canada has been my home for almost all my life and I’m excited to give back. I’m ready to give my best for Canada Soccer’s Men’s National Team in these crucial months coming up.”
Akinola found a spot on Canada’s provisional 50-player roster earlier this month for the upcoming competition, and was not named to the United States’. The official 23-player rosters are expected to be released later this week.
“It’s great news, we’ve been working for the last 18 months to bring Ayo home to play for Canada,” added John Herdman, Canada Soccer’s Men’s National Team Head Coach. “He’s excited to get going and I’m looking forward to immersing him into the Men’s National Team environment.”
Akinola, who was born in Michigan before moving to Canada at the age of one, was eligible to represent the United States, who he attended a non-cap-tying training camp with late last year, Nigeria, as well as Canada.
He recently spent time with the Canadian camp as part of an ‘extended training camp’ roster during the team’s most recent international stint, one which saw Les Rouges qualify for the final stage of World Cup Qualifying for the first time since 1997.
Perhaps Jayden Nelson’s words swayed his teammate!
We’re not the only ones hoping Ayo Akinola chooses to represent Canada instead of the United States. Here’s what Jayden Nelson had to say when I sat down with him 1-on-1: pic.twitter.com/k7lICyw1bC— Michael Singh (@MichaelSingh94) June 16, 2021
After missing most of the offseason with an undisclosed injury, Akinola got off to a slow start to this season, but has since heated up. He has goals in two of his last four matches after netting nine in 15 matches a year ago.