Bursaspor of Turkey defender Shehu Abdullahi’s injury in Nigeria’s hard-earned 1-0 win over Burundi has caused a disagreement between the Super Eagles’ doctors and members of the technical crew.
Although the Eagles won the game 1-0 in Alexandria, Egypt, the team got an early scare when Abdullahi had to bow out midway through the first half, only for the doctors to remind the coaching crew that the star had actually failed a late fitness test before kick-off.
It was a surprise seeing Abdullahi in the Eagles’ starting line-up for Saturday’s match, as the verdict few hours before kick-off had been that he was not fit enough to play the game, but his name was included in the dressing room, and Jamilu Collins dropped instead.
While a similar scenario played out for Burundi as well, with one player dropped for another just after the list had been dropped, an insider in Nigeria’s squad hinted that Collins copped a knock during the warm-up, as the coaches felt the next reliable option to call upon was Abdullahi.
However, it was a twist of events, as Abdullahi had already been in doubt for Saturday’s game against Burundi, after arriving late at the Eagles’ camp due to the Ramadan festivities, only for him to fall ill before the team left Asaba for Ismailia.
His situation improved a little after the Eagles’ last build-up friendly against Senegal last Sunday, only for him to pick a knock during training, and coach Gernot Rohr quickly put the fair-skinned defender-cum-midfielder out of his plans for thebBurundi clash.
Another hint emerged early Saturday that there would be no show for Abdullahi, who had also been among the first of Rohr’s invitees to take ill upon arrival at the camp in Asaba and his condition only improved slightly in Ismailia for the second phase of preparations.
Abdullahi was not the only ‘half fit’ player for Rohr to contend with before the game against Burundi, as worries also persisted over vice-captain, Ahmed Musa, as well as Henry Onyekuru, Leon Balogun and Paul Onuachu, while Samuel Kalu collapsed during training on Friday.