Soccer: Nigerian-born Tamuz likely to rejoin Israel team

18-year-old player initially rejected the extension offer, but collected the documents from the interior ministry on Monday.

jp.services1 (photo credit: )
(photo credit: )
Toto Tamuz accepted temporary residency status Monday, paving the way for the Nigerian-born striker to rejoin Israel's national soccer team and face England in a European Championship qualifier. The 18-year-old Tamuz has fought a long battle to gain Israeli citizenship and even dropped out of a friendly match against Ukraine last month in protest. He plays for first-place Beitar Jerusalem and is the top scorer in the Israeli Premier League. Tamuz, the son of illegal Nigerian immigrants, was raised in Israel and speaks fluent Hebrew. But Israel's interior ministry has only been willing to extend Tamuz's temporary residency status, which could be converted to permanent citizenship within five years. Tamuz initially rejected the extension offer, but he collected his temporary travel document from the interior ministry in Petah Tikva on Monday. "I am happy that I have received my temporary travel document and now I will be able to play for the national team," Tamuz said. "I hope that (Israel coach) Dror Kashtan will pick me. This hasn't been an easy process. It has taken a long time and now I am happy that it is behind me." On Tuesday, Kashtan is expected to name his squad for the European Championship qualifying games against England and Estonia. Tamuz has played top level soccer in Israel for less than two years but has already established himself as one of the stars of the local league. He has scored 12 goals for Beitar Jerusalem this season in all competitions. Tamuz has already played twice for Israel, scoring on his debut in a 4-1 win over Andorra in September and setting up Israel's goal in a 1-1 draw in Russia the following month.