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NFF clarifies controversy over Sadiq Umar injury

The Nigeria Football Federation (NFF) has shed more light on the controversy surrounding the injury to Real Sociedad striker, Sadiq Umar.

Umar withdrew from the Super Eagles’ squad for the 2023 African Cup of Nations in Ivory Coast after he picked up an injury and was ruled out of action for at least three weeks.

A video showing the striker training individually on Monday, having returned to Spain, however, went viral on Social media which led to Nigerians criticising the NFF.

The NFF communications department, in a statement on Tuesday, said its medical team approached Umar’s case 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 read.

“The camp has released a statement with regards to how the player was withdrawn from Nigeria’s squad for the 34th Africa Cup of Nations finals ongoing in Cote d’Ivoire.

“We are surprised at the news trending on social media concerning Sadiq Umar and how he was withdrawn from the team camp.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and were diligent in their processes and conclusions before advising Head Coach José Peseiro that the player be withdrawn from the squad.”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 NFF said Umar was okay when he arrived in camp, as he had to undergo the standard pre-competition medical assessment and he was good. He started to train with the team.

Unfortunately, he sustained an injury to the back of his left knee during the Super Eagles’ friendly match against Guinea in Abu Dhabi on January 8 that led to a penalty against their opponents.

The NFF added that the medical team advised that he should be substituted, as a cautionary measure, but he said he was fine and could continue the game.

At half time, Nigeria’s football governing body said he reiterated that he was good to continue playing, and he played the entire 90 minutes of the friendly match, which the Super Eagles lost 2-0.

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, the Nigerian contingent had to travel to Lagos and on January 10, they flew to Abidjan. Then, the swelling became worse.

“Most of the reports we have seen are not a true representation of what actually happened,” the NFF stated.

“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 Umar 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.”

The NFF has also reiterated that Umar was in fact carried along throughout the process.

It added that the 26-year-old started his rehabilitation with the Super Eagles’ physiotherapist before he returned to his club in Spain.

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