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Almeria stop Sadiq from Super Eagles’ AFCON qualifiers over Covid-19 concerns

SPANISH club UD Almeria have said that they will not allow Sadiq Umar to attend Nigeria’s Africa Cup of Nations qualifying matches against Benin Republic and Lesotho.

The Super Eagles visit Porto Novo for the first of two games on 27 March and welcome Lesotho to Lagos three days later.

Umar, who was one of the standout players for Nigeria’s U-23s as they won men’s football event bronze at the Rio Olympics in 2016, was hoping to win his first senior cap during the qualifiers.

However, due to the Covid-19 pandemic, second-tier Almeria have joined other European clubs from releasing their player for the qualifiers.

“Due to the pandemic crisis that we are experiencing, due to the Covid-19 virus and thoroughly evaluating all the impacts, we believe that the sanitary, security or bureaucratic conditions are not met for our player Sadiq Umar to appear for the national team of Nigeria,” Almeria said in an official statement on Friday.

“Therefore, based on article 3.1b of Annex 1 of FIFA RSTP, we have notified the player not to appear at the aforementioned summons.”

FIFA has given clubs permission to hold onto their players during this international break because of the risks of contracting coronavirus during their travels.

French club Nantes also prevented Moses Simon from travelling for the qualifiers, and there might still be more to come.

Umar’s impressive form for Almeria in the Spanish second division earned him a first call-up to the Super Eagles by Gernot Rohr.

The 24-year-old striker has scored 14 goals in 26 LaLiga games for Almeria in LaLiga 2 this season as they chase promotion to LaLiga.

They are second in the table with 56 points from 29 matches, four points behind leaders Mallorca. 

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