Real Sociedad striker Sadiq Umar has issued a statement to address the controversy surrounding his injury and subsequent exclusion from Nigeria’s squad at the Africa Cup of Nations (AFCON 2024).
Paul Onuachu replaced Umar after Nigeria team doctors recommended his substitution, believing he might not be fit for the Super Eagles' campaign.
Super Eagles coach Jose Peseiro heeded the medical team's advice, withdrew Umar, and brought in Trabzonspor striker Onuachu as his replacement.
However, days later, Umar was spotted training with Real Sociedad and featured as a late substitute in their Copa Del Rey clash with Osasuna.
This raised concerns among Nigerian fans, prompting accusations of Umar feigning injury to play for his club. Some also criticized the Super Eagles medical team for negligence.
Last week, the Nigeria Football Federation released a press release explaining the situation.
Now, Umar, through his representatives, has released a statement to provide clarity on the events involving the player, the Super Eagles medical team, and his club, Real Sociedad.
In the statement, Umar said, “I want to extend my heartfelt congratulations to the Super Eagles for their victory against Ivory Coast. It is imperative for me to address the messages I have received from fellow Nigerians accusing me of pretending to be injured to depart the national team just before the AFCON and return to my club.
“Clarifying the situation and providing a detailed account of events is essential. I want to express my deep love for Africa and my unwavering affection for Nigeria. Representing our great nation is consistently both a privilege and an honor. Here is a comprehensive explanation of the situation.
“During the friendly match against Guinea, I experienced a significant impact from two Guinean defenders, leading to a penalty in favor of Nigeria. Despite the medical team recommending substitution for preventive measures, I insisted on continuing to play and completed the game. The following day, my knee swelled.
“The Super Eagles medical team conducted a thorough examination, revealing a meniscus injury. Consequently, the manager decided to replace me based on the medical assessment, considering uncertainties about my fitness for the AFCON. Upon returning to my club and undergoing thorough examinations, the medical team revealed that I had only suffered a bruise, and as a result, I was cleared to resume training.
“I extend my special thanks to my club, Real Sociedad, for supporting my swift recovery and return to play. Representing Nigeria is always my priority; I will never take it for granted. I would gladly accept it if I could return to the team.
“I am sad that I am not with my colleagues but happy they are winning. I extend my best wishes to the Super Eagles in the ongoing Africa Nations Cup.
He has 11 caps for Nigeria and was part of the Super Eagles team in the last Africa Cup of Nations in Cameroon, scoring against Guinea-Bissau in a Group D game.
They will play their final group game against Guinea-Bissau on Monday, 22 January.