The withdrawal of UD Almeria of Spain striker, Umar Sadiq from the Super Eagles’ squad for the upcoming Africa Cup of Nations qualifiers has given room for another home-based player to be included on the roster, megasportsaena.com reports.
In contrast with how Enyimba of Aba goalkeeper, John Noble had been the only lad invited from the Nigeria Professional Football League (NPFL), his colleague from The Peoples’ Elephant has now been added to the list of invitees expected to report to camp next week.
Information on offer from the communications department of Nigeria Football Federation (NFF) revealed that Enyimba’s Anayo Iwuala has been called up as a replacement for Sadiq, who has been told by his club to withdraw from 4Eagles’ coach, Gernot Rohr’s 24 invitees.
This means Umar will not have the opportunity of showcasing his current top form among the lads listed to play away to Benin Republic on March 27 and Lesotho three days later at Teslim Balogun Stadium in Lagos, as his club confirmed that safety concerns over COVID-19 informed their decision to pull him out.
Umar has been delivering spectacular performances for Almeria this season, scoring 14 goals and providing five assists in 26 league games, such that his scintillating form earned him his first ever senior call-up, having previously starred for the under-23 side, Olympic Eagles that won bronze at Rio 2016 Olympic Games.
While the 24-year-old former AS Roma of Italy, Glasgow Rangers of Scotland and Partizan Belgrade of Serbia youngster would be willing to honour Nigeria’s call, his Spanish second division club have stopped him from turning up.
The club, which has a long history of Nigerian players in their squads over the years, have now formally declared that the tall centre-forward will not be allowed to honour Rohr’s invitation, as they believe the NFF have not been able to confirm the necessary COVID-19 protocol that would enable Sadiq be safe during his expected stay with the Eagles.
Almeria’s statement read: ”Due to the pandemic crisis that we are experiencing and thoroughly evaluating all the impacts, we believe that the sanitary, security or bureaucratic conditions are not met, so that our player Sadiq Umar presents himself to the call-up of the Nigerian national team. Therefore, based on article 3.1b of Annex 1 of FIFA RSTP, we have notified the player not to appear at the aforementioned call.”