Sadiq Umar: NFF defends Super Eagles’ medical team despite club claims

The Nigeria Football Federation (NFF) on Tuesday dismissed allegations of negligence and unprofessional conduct on the part of the Super Eagles medical team concerning the withdrawal of Spain-based forward Sadiq Umar from the squad for the ongoing Africa Cup of Nations (AFCON) in Cote d’Ivoire.

Blueprint recalls that Sadiq was reported to have suffered a knee injury when the Super Eagles played Guinea in a pre-AFCON warm-up match in Abu Dhabi.

Sadiq was subsequently replaced by Trabzonspor’s forward, Paul Onuachu.

But there have been insinuation of foul play, unprofessional conduct or probably favouritism in the social media regarding his withdrawal.

Defending Sadiq’s withdrawal, the NFF, in the statement made available to Blueprint, addressed the reports circulating on social media and clarified the events leading to Umar’s withdrawal from the squad.

According to the statement, “Umar was fit upon his arrival at the camp and underwent the standard pre-competition medical assessment, where he was deemed in good health. The injury occurred during a friendly match against Guinea on January 8, resulting in swelling in the back of his left knee.”

NFF said the medical team advised Umar to be substituted during the match, but he insisted on continuing and played the entire 90 minutes.

NFF explained that the following day, the Real Sociedad hitman experienced increased swelling, leading to a careful evaluation by the medical team.

The statement emphasised that “the medical team diligently followed all due processes and protocols, consulting with a knee surgeon in Spain whom Umar had contacted, before making the decision to withdraw him from the squad.”

NFF while refuting the reports, stressed that the Nigeria football governing body employed competent medical team who are well-trained in sport and exercise medicine and highly experienced and exposed to the most modern techniques and practices.

The statement further reads: “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 The camp has released a statement with regards to how the player was withdrawn from Nigeria’s squad for the 34th Africa Cup of Nations finals ongoing in Cote d’Ivoire.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 substituted, as a cautionary measure, but he said he was fine and could continue the game. At half time, he said 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.
“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.”