Ayo Akinola opts to represent Canada over the USMNT

Ayo Akinola - Toronto FC - July 17, 2020

Toronto FC forward Ayo Akinola will represent Canada at the international level, the Canadian Soccer Association announced Wednesday. The player was also eligible to represent the United States and Nigeria before choosing Canada.

FIFA approved the one-time switch after Akinola represented the USMNT at youth levels and made his senior team debut last year. He was invited to spend time with Canada during the team's training camps this year, and decided after this month's training during a World Cup qualifying window.

"I’m really excited to represent Canada at the international level," Akinola said in a statement. "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."

The 21-year-old was born in Detroit, but moved to Brampton, Ontario, when he was a year old. He grew up in Canada and came up through the Toronto academy before making his first team debut in 2018. Akinola's parents are from Lagos State in Nigeria, previously making him eligible to represent the African nation. He told MLSsoccer.com in 2019 that the NIgerian federation reached out to him in 2017, during the U-17 World Cup.

Akinola was named on Canada's provisional roster for this summer's Gold Cup.