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Omeruo’s injury unsettles Super Eagles’ coaches as Onuachu replaces Simon

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[FILES Nigeria’s defender Kenneth Omeruo celebrates his goal during the 2019 Africa Cup of Nations (CAN) football match between Nigeria and Guinea at the Alexandria Stadium on June 26 , 2019. (Photo by Giuseppe CACACE / AFP)


Pinnick inspects Samuel Ogbemudia Stadium

The injury sustained by Super Eagles midfielder, Kenneth Omeruo while featuring for his Spanish club, CD Leganes, at the weekend, has thrown Coach Gernot Rohr and his assistants off balance. The Super Eagles will host the Leone Stars of Sierra Leone on November 13 at the newly refurbished Samuel Ogbemudia Stadium, Benin City with the return leg in Freetown four days later.

Omeruo became the latest call-up to be injured, as he was replaced in the second half in the La Liga match against Mirandes. CD Leganes won the tie 1-0 with Jose Arnaiz scoring in the 49th minute. Omeruo had suffered a muscle injury on July 1, 2020, and stayed off action for 14 days, missing three matches in the process. He suffered a similar muscle injury on April 1, 2019, when he missed two matches after staying off for 13 days.

Though the extent of Omeruo’s injury will be ascertained later this week, a source close to technical department of Nigeria Football Federation (NFF) told The Guardian yesterday that the coaches were worried by the situation.

FC Nantes winger, Moses Simon, who suffered a groin injury in the weekend’s clash against champions, PSG, has been replaced by Paul Onuachu, who was initially put on the stand-by list.

Aside from Simon, Rohr could also be without Sebastian Osigwe, who tested positive for coronavirus last week. The Samuel Ogbemudia Stadium, Benin City, last hosted the national team on November 12, 2011, when the Super Eagles drew 0-0 with relatively unknown Zebras of Botswana in a friendly match.

Last month, coach Gernot Rohr had his first assignment with the Super Eagles since signing a new contract. In two friendly matches played in Austria, the team lost 0-1 to the Desert Foxes of Algeria and drew 1-1 draw with the Carthage Eagles of Tunisia.

The three-time African champions top Group L of the 2021 AFCON qualifying series with six points following victories in their opening two games against neighbours Benin Republic and Lesotho.

Meanwhile, Nigeria Football Federation (NFF) President, Amaju Pinnick, yesterday inspected the Samuel Ogbemudia Stadium, Benin, venue of the game against Sierra Leone.

Pinnick was accompanied by the Edo State Deputy Governor, Comrade Philip Shaibu, who led other stakeholders in the state’s sports sector on a tour of the newly reconstructed sporting facility.

Pinnick said: “These are very critical and sensitive times. So, I decided as president of the NFF to take charge, possibly to go back and report to my executive members. There is tremendous improvement compared to the last time I came. The turf is very brilliant. It is what you see in world class facilities. I thank the Edo State government for these facilities and we are proud of this achievement.

“I am in touch with the players who are all excited to be here to play for the country, especially Ahmed Musa, the captain of the team, whose mother is from Edo State. He is anxious to play for the nation and his state.”

Noting that the state government has made tremendous progress in developing the sporting sector in the state, he added: “The NFF will move into the state on Friday while the players will start arriving from Sunday and after the game, preparation is in place to fly to Sierra Leone on Friday or Saturday after the game. I will communicate all I have seen here to the Ministry of Youths and Sports and also the executive committee.

“However, I am happy with what we have seen here today and the Super Eagles will be playing here for a long time.” Pinnick also disclosed that the women national team, Super Falcons, will also play in Benin, a city he described as home of football.

Pinnick praised Governor Obaseki and his deputy for the quality of facilities in the stadium, saying, “You have to showcase whatever facilities you have in Samuel Ogbemudia Stadium; we have to write to CAF for approval for the usage of the VAR. But, we are very excited about it,” he added.

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