Enyimba’s Iwuala replaces Almeria striker
Promotion-chasing Spanish Segunda Division club Almeria yesterday issued a statement informing Umar Sadiq not to honour his invitation to the Super Eagles for the upcoming 2021 Africa Cup of Nations qualifying matches against the Republic of Benin and Lesotho.
Almeria have argued that their top scorer will not be released to the Nigeria Football Federation because health and safety conditions have not been met.
Umar has beendelivering spectacular performances for Almeria this season, scoring 14 goals and providing five assists in 26 league games.
His scintillating form earned him his first call-up to the senior national team, having previously starred for the West African’s U23 side.
Football’s governing body, FIFA has always forced clubs to release their players but as a result of the coronavirus pandemic the rule has been relaxed because of the risks.
French Ligue 1 clubs have banned their Africa footballers from traveling to join up with their national teams this month, meaning Moses Simon (Nantes), Samuel Kalu (Bordeaux) and Terem Moffi (Lorient) won’t be available for selection in the two AFCON qualifiers.
“Due to the pandemic crisis that we are experiencing, due to the sars-cov-2 virus (Covid 19) and thoroughly evaluating all the impacts, we believe that the sanitary, security or bureaucratic conditions are not met, so that our player Sadiq Umar present himself to the call-up of the Nigerian National team,” Ameria said in a statement.
“Therefore, based on article 3.1b of Annex 1 of FIFA RSTP, we have notified the player not to appear at the aforementioned call”.
Sadiq would have missed three matches against Leganes, Malaga and Rayo Vallecano assuming he was allowed to report for international duty.
The Nigeria Football Federation confirmed this afternoon that Enyimba’s Anayo Iwuala will replace Sadiq for the Benin Republic and Lesotho clashes.
Nigeria lead Group L of the Afcon qualifiers with eight points and a win over either Benin or Lesotho will seal their place at the continental showpiece in Cameroon.
The Super Eagles finished third in the last edition of the Africa Cup of Nations in Egypt behind winners Algeria and Senegal.