Iheanacho Set to Join Super Eagles on Saturday, Sadiq's Participation Uncertain

Iheanacho Set to Join Super Eagles on Saturday, Sadiq’s Participation Uncertain

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Super Eagles forward Kelechi Iheanacho is anticipated to link up with the squad in Ivory Coast on Saturday, a day ahead of Nigeria’s opening match against Equatorial Guinea at the 2023 AFCON. Real Sociedad forward Umar Sadiq, however, is reportedly not fully fit for Nigeria’s inaugural game.

The AFCON tournament, commencing with a match between Nigeria’s Group A rivals Ivory Coast and Guinea-Bissau on Saturday, will run until February 11.

Team media officer Babafemi Raji confirmed that both Iheanacho and Sadiq were absent from the team’s second training session in Abidjan on Thursday. Although Iheanacho was initially reported to have traveled with the team from Lagos on Wednesday, coach Jose Peseiro mentioned on Monday that the Leicester City forward was already in Abidjan, awaiting his teammates.

“Iheanacho will join us on Saturday, and Moffi on Sunday,” stated Raji. Meanwhile, Sadiq, present in Abidjan, did not train with the rest of the squad on Thursday, jogging alone on the sidelines while Peseiro and his staff worked with the remaining 22 players from the final 25-man squad, with Moffi not yet part of the squad.

Raji reassured that Sadiq’s apparent injury concern was only precautionary. Nigeria’s injury concerns have increased since the Portuguese coach named his final 25-man squad. Leicester midfielder Wilfred Ndidi was the first to be ruled out, replaced by Antwerp’s Alhassan Yusuf, while Bayer Leverkusen’s Victor Boniface also sustained a groin injury during the team’s training camp in Abu Dhabi.

Iheanacho’s participation has been uncertain since being named in the final squad, following Leicester coach Enzo Maresca’s announcement that he was nursing a muscle problem. Nevertheless, he hasn’t been replaced, unlike Ndidi and Boniface. With the 27-year-old still uncertain and Sadiq partially fit, Peseiro currently has Victor Osimhen, the reigning African Player of the Year, as the sole fully fit striker.

Nigeria, three-time AFCON champions in 1980, 1994, and 2013, are placed in Group A with hosts Ivory Coast, Equatorial Guinea, and Guinea-Bissau. The three-time African champions will commence their quest for a fourth title on Sunday against Equatorial Guinea, followed by a match against Ivory Coast on January 18, and the final group game against Guinea-Bissau on January 22.

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