AFCON top scorer Nsue played illegally for Equatorial Guinea for 11 years

The top scorer at this year's Africa Cup of Nations finals, Emilio Nsue (34), played illegally for Equatorial Guinea for 11 years, it has emerged from FIFA documentation detailing a six-month ban he was handed last month.

The striker, whose previous clubs include Birmingham City and Middlesborough, finished top marksman at the finals in the Ivory Coast in January where Equatorial Guinea sensationally punched above their weight as they beat the host nation in the group phase and progressed to the last-16.

But Nsue should not have been playing at all, it has emerged as world football’s governing body on Monday published the decision of its disciplinary committee hearing into his status.

AFCON top scorer Nsue played illegally for Equatorial Guinea for 11 years

The decision, made on May 10th, found Nsue should not have been allowed to represent the small central African nation and had previously been sanctioned, as well as having a request for a switch of footballing nationality denied.

Despite this, Equatorial Guinea continued to pick him with impunity before FIFA stepped in more than 10 years after their decision to deny his request to switch to the African country.

Nsue, born in Palma de Mallorca to a Spanish mother and father from Equatorial Guinea, represented Spain at junior level, including scoring at the 2009 U-20 World Cup.

Players who represent one country at junior level can apply to switch international allegiance as long as they have not won a competitive senior cap - and as long as they have dual nationality.

But FIFA denied Nsue's request to switch because he only acquired Equatoguinean nationality after having played at junior level for Spain.

By that time, he had already made two appearances for the former Spanish colony in qualifiers for the 2014 World Cup and Equatorial Guinea were subsequently fined.

But despite the rulings, Nsue continued to play for Equatorial Guinea including the 2018 and 2022 World Cup qualifiers plus competed at three Cup of Nations tournaments.

FIFA's finding gave no explanation to why they suddenly revisited Nsue's status but on May 24th they stripped Equatorial Guinea of the six points they had collected from their two 2026 World Cup qualifiers in November.

Nsue scored the winner in both of those games against Namibia and Liberia.

He was banned for six months from international football, although had already announced his retirement after the Cup of Nations.

FIFA have not replied to previous queries about the apparent administrative slip-up.


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