Cameroonian winger Njongo Doding Priso is set to follow Nigeria-born striker Alfred Effiong after applying for a Maltese passport which would make him eligible to represent Malta in international football.
Priso, who has been married to a Maltese for more than four years, has already indicated his eagerness to obtain Maltese citizenship and his application has the full backing of the Malta FA.
Earlier this month, Priso discussed the matter during a meeting, held in Valletta, with Malta coach Pietro Ghedin and Ivan Vella, the national team’s manager.
“I’m interested in playing for Malta and this is why I went to speak to the coach and Ivan Vella,” Priso, currently in Malta after terminating his contract with Hungarian club Gyori ETO, told Times of Malta.
“I must say that I was pleased with the conversation I had with Mr Ghedin.
“The process of applying for a passport takes some time but we are targeting the September qualifiers.”
Malta’s next Euro 2016 qualifier is a home match against Bulgaria on June 12. On September 3, Malta meet Italy in Florence before hosting Azerbaijan at the National Stadium three days later.
Priso had already left Maltese football when Ghedin took over as national coach in 2012 but the Italian mentor has been gathering information about the Cameroonian since being informed that the speedy winger could be eligible to play for Malta in the near future.
A few years back, Priso was reportedly in the frame for a call-up to the Cameroon squad after representing his country of birth at U-23 level but the 26-year-old is now intrinsically linked with Malta.
“I feel at home here,” Priso said. “Besides my family, I also have many friends in Malta.”
After joining Msida St Joseph as a raw 18-year-old winger in 2007, Priso soon forged a reputation as one of the most talented foreigners in the Premier League.
A move to Valletta in 2008 gave Priso the platform to showcase his abilities at a higher level. Although he failed to win the championship during his two-year spell with the Citizens, Priso still made a towering impact and, in the summer of 2010, Dutch coach Ton Caanen, who had been in charge of Valletta the previous season, signed him for AEK Larnaca on a one-year loan deal.
AEK Larnaca took up the option to make Priso’s move permanent in 2011 and since then, he has had spells with CSKA Sofia, in Bulgaria, and Romanian club Petrolul Ploiesti.
Last summer, Priso signed for Gyori ETO but his spell in Hungary was cut short after the club were declared bankrupt.
Priso is currently without a club but he is upbeat about his prospects of signing for a new club ahead of next season.
“I’m looking to join a new club,” Priso noted.
“My manager has told me that there is interest from two to three clubs and he’s working to negotiate a deal.”
Priso admits that having a Maltese passport would improve his chances of getting a contract in a top European country like England and Italy where his agent has strong contacts.
No doubt, Priso would not be short of offers if he decides to return to Maltese football.
Although he is willing to continue his career overseas, he remains open to the possibility of rejoining Valletta in the future.
“I’m not 100 per cent sure if I want to return to Malta yet,” Priso said.
“If I do come back at some point, I’d prefer to rejoin Valletta, also because (club president) Victor Sciriha has always helped me.”
After a lapse of several years, Malta fielded a naturalised player in an international game last March after Effiong came on as a substitute in the friendly match against Georgia (0-2).
Three days later, Effiong earned his first Malta start in the 2-0 loss to Azerbaijan in a Euro 2016 Group H qualifier.
Last year, Nigeria-born youngster Joseph Mbong, who is on the books of Hibs, was granted Maltese citizenship on sporting merits. The same criteria were applied in the case of French waterpolo player Aurelien Cousin whose application for Maltese citizenship was approved a few months ago.
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