AFCON 2023: NFF issue statement on striker’s injury controversy

The Nigeria Football Federation have responded to the controversy surrounding Real Sociedad striker Sadiq Umar’s injury after he left the Super Eagles Africa Cup of Nations (AFCON 2023) camp.

Umar had to withdraw from the squad last week after a knock he picked up in the Super Eagles' preparatory game against Guinea became more serious than it was thought.

Trabzonspor’s Paul Onuachu was called up to replace him.

Sadiq Umar withdrew from Nigeria's AFCON 2023 duty due to an injury
 © Victor Modo

Sadiq back to training after AFCON 2023 withdrawal?

However, Real Sociedad released a video showing Umar training at Sociedad’s training complex, purportedly in line to play in Sociedad’s next game.

The video drew widespread criticism of the Nigerian team doctors and the Nigeria Football Federation.

NFF clarifies controversy

In a statement released on Tuesday, the NFF Communications Department said Umar’s case was dealt with every sense of professionalism.

“The camp of Nigeria’s senior men football team, Super Eagles, has decried reports in sections of the media that have continued to garnish the medical case of Spain-based forward Sadiq Umar with conspiracy theories, incorrect assumptions, and unbecoming insinuations,” the statement stated.

“The camp has released a statement with regards to how the player was withdrawn from Nigeria’s squad for the 34th Africa Cup of Nations finals ongoing in Cote d’Ivoire.

“We are surprised at the news trending on social media concerning Sadiq Umar and how he was withdrawn from the team camp. The fact is that our medical team meticulously abided by the best medical procedures and were diligent in their processes and conclusions before advising Head Coach José Peseiro that the player be withdrawn from the squad.

“The player, Sadiq Umar, was okay when he arrived at camp; he had to undergo the standard pre-competition medical assessment and he was good. He started to train with the team. Unfortunately, he copped an injury on the back of his left knee during our friendly match against Guinea in Abu Dhabi on 8th January, that led to a penalty against our opponents. The medical team advised that he be substituted, as a cautionary measure, but he said he was fine and could continue the game. At halftime, he reiterated that he was good to continue playing, and he played the entire 90 minutes.

“However, the following day, he woke up to see the knee swelling, and the medical team had to apply ice, which is the normal thing. The same day, we had to travel to Lagos and on the 10th January, flew to Abidjan. Then, the swelling became worse.

“Most of the reports we have seen are not a true representation of what actually happened. We have a very competent medical team who are well-trained in sport and exercise medicine and highly experienced and exposed to the most modern techniques and practices. They followed all due processes and protocol in tandem with the consultant knee surgeon that the player himself contacted in Spain, before the decision was made in the interest of the nation and the career of the player.

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 © Victor Modo

“As much as the medical team has refused to join issues with anyone due to their professional patience and privacy policy, we will not allow anyone to rubbish our collective responsibility as Team Nigeria to this Africa Cup of Nations championship. We reiterate that the player was carried along throughout the process, and he started his rehabilitation with the team physiotherapist before he returned to his club in Spain,” the NFF revealed.

It is now left to be seen if indeed Sadiq will be fit to be part of Sociedad’s next fixture as Nigeria prepares for their clash with the Elephants of Ivory Coast on Thursday, January 18.

AFCON 2023: NFF issue statement on striker’s injury controversy
Andrew Randa

Andrew Randa is a seasoned Africa sports journalist, and a former Media Officer for Nigeria's U-20 national team. He is widely acknowledged as an authority on the NPFL and African football, Randa is esteemed for his expertise in football content creation. Furthermore, he holds the distinction of being Nigeria's foremost sports kit designer and a trailblazer in the realm of sports graphics in Nigeria.