The Super Eagles vs Ivory Coast game comes up on Thursday, with Yusuf Alhassan set to miss the match.
The hosts seek to become the first country to qualify for the next round of AFCON 2023.
The hosts are in high spirits following their opening day 2-0 win over Guinea Bissau, but the same cannot be said of the Super Eagles.
The Nigerian national team continues to reel under the impact of blow after blow, with no respite in sight.
Perhaps the situation prompted the Super Eagles coach, Jose Peseiro, to say God gives and takes. It means that the Super Eagles vs Ivory Coast match is a must-win for him.
The latest blow to hit the Nigerian side is the impending absence of Yusuf Alhassan for the tie.
Yusuf Alhassan to miss the Super Eagles vs Ivory Coast game
When Wilfred Ndidi bowed to injury ahead of AFCON 2023, many thought the worst had happened, as they did not believe there was an alternative to the Leicester City midfielder.
Yusuf Alhassan who replaced the Foxes midfielder, played against the Nzalang Nacional and gave a good account of himself, prompting fans to believe again, but when he copped an injury, the doubts crept in again.
In the pre-match press conference ahead of the Super Eagles vs Ivory Coast game, Peseiro said that Yusuf Alhassan, who plays for Royal Antwerp, was fit but not ready for the match.
“For tomorrow’s match, Yusuf is not going to be available,” he said.
— Soar Super Eagles (@SSE_NGA) January 17, 2024
In a game where the Super Eagles need to be compact to overcome their hosts, Yusuf Alhassan will be a big miss, and it remains to see how Peseiro will cope with his absence.
Peseiro surprised at Sadiq Umar's absence
The Super Eagles have been reeling under pressure in the past week. They have suffered the absence of several players, including Wilfred Ndidi, Victor Boniface and Sadiq Umar.
Yusuf Alhassan is the latest to go down to injury, but Peseiro expressed surprise at the early return to fitness of Sadiq Umar.
He claimed the NFF medics examined the player and told him he would be out for 15 days.
There has been an outcry within the media and Nigerian fans over his inclusion in Real Sociedad's match-day squad for their Copa Del Rey game against Osasuna on Wednesday.
The NFF defended its position, claiming its medical team approached Sadiq Umar’s case with every sense of professionalism.
The NFF Communications department sent a press release saying most of the reports seen are not a correct representation of what transpired.
On Sadiq Umar mysterious injury recovery.
Jose Paseiro: I'm also confused as well, I don't know, one month, 2 months I don't know, we had a meeting with our medical staff and the player and decided to replace him, I'm happy that he's recovered well but sad that he's not with… pic.twitter.com/NUMSIfjST2
— Latifat Adebayo-Ohio (@Phatill) January 17, 2024
According to the NFF, they have a very competent medical team who are well-trained in sport and exercise medicine, experienced and exposed to the most modern techniques and practices.
They followed all due processes in tandem with the consultant knee surgeon that the player contacted in Spain before making a decision.
With Yusuf Alhassan out of the Super Eagles game on Thursday, what the team needs at the moment is a calm atmosphere devoid of rancour and controversy.
This article was most recently revised and updated 1 month ago