Nigeria coach Jose Peseiro said Wednesday he had been left “confused” by reports that striker Umar Sadiq was set to return to action for his club Real Sociedad just days after pulling out of the Africa Cup of Nations due to injury.
“I am confused also,” Peseiro told reporters in Abidjan when asked how the 26-year-old could have recovered already from a knee injury he believed would prevent the player from having any involvement at the AFCON.
“I received a report from the medical team that he is injured and he cannot recover in 15 days at least.
“The report went to the club and the club said he must go back to recover — they even said there was a possibility he might need surgery.
“We had a meeting with our staff and the player wanted to stay, like I did, but on the last day that we could replace a player, we decided to replace him.”
Sadiq’s spot was taken by giant forward Paul Onuachu, who came on as a substitute as Nigeria drew 1-1 with Equatorial Guinea in their opening match at the Cup of Nations on Sunday.
That result has left Peseiro’s side under some pressure ahead of their second game, against hosts Ivory Coast on Thursday.
“I am happy because he has recovered well but I am sad that he is not here to help us,” Peseiro added of Sadiq, who suffered the injury in a pre-tournament friendly against Guinea.
Real Sociedad coach Imanol Alguacil this week suggested it was the Nigerian Football Federation’s decision to send the player back to his club, leaving him potentially available to face Osasuna in the Copa del Rey on Wednesday.
Midfielder Alhassan Yusuf — himself a late replacement for the injured Wilfred Ndidi — will not face Ivory Coast after coming off hurt in the opening match.
“He is not severely injured, which is the good news, but he is not ready for tomorrow,” Peseiro revealed.
Ivory Coast are sweating on the fitness of striker Sebastien Haller as well as winger Simon Adingra, both of whom sat out the opening 2-0 win over Guinea-Bissau.
“Sebastien and Simon have returned to training. They are on the right track,” coach Jean-Louis Gasset said ahead of the first AFCON clash between Ivory Coast and Nigeria since a 2-1 win for the Super Eagles in the 2013 quarter-finals.
“We will have to speak with the medical staff and the players themselves before deciding if they can play.”