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2023 AFCON: NFF Explains Injury Saga Involving Sadiq Umar

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The Nigeria Football Federation (NFF) has denied any negligence or lack of professionalism in withdrawing Real Sociedad forward Sadiq Umar from the Super Eagles 2023 AFCON squad.

Sadiq Umar was part of the Super Eagles 2023 AFCON squad but had to be dropped less than two days before the tournament because he reportedly suffered a muscle injury. He has been replaced by Trabzonspor forward Paul Onuachu.

Recently, a video of Umar training alone at his club’s training ground in Spain ignited criticism against the NFF. Most of the critics alleged incompetence in how the forward’s injury was handled.

However, an official statement from the NFF earlier today, January 16, claimed that Umar’s controversial injury was handled professionally.

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The NFF also made it clear that Sadiq Umar took an active part in making decisions and began working with the Super Eagles’ physiotherapist on his recovery before going back to his Spanish club, Real Sociedad.

A statement from the NFF reads, “The camp of Nigeria’s senior men’s 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“The camp has released a statement with regards to how the player was withdrawn from Nigeria’s squad for the 34th Africa Cup of Nations finals ongoing in Cote d’Ivoire. We are surprised at the news trending on social media concerning Sadiq Umar and how he was withdrawn from the team camp.

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”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and were diligent in their processes and conclusions before advising Head Coach José Peseiro that the player be withdrawn from the squad.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, which 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.

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“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 of 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.

“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.”