Bruno Onyemaechi doubtful for World Cup qualifiers after he picked up injury yesterday

BOAVISTA leftback Bruno Onyemaechi is a doubt for Nigeria's forthcoming World Cup qualifiers against Lesotho and Zimbabwe taking place over the next week after picking up an injury in a league game over the weekend.


Onyemaechi, 24, a new member of the Eagles had been a standout performer in his last two matches and was looking to cement his place in the starting line-up. He has been invi8ted to camp like everyone else but picked up an injury during Boavista’s 3-1 loss to Farense yesterday and had to be substituted in the 56th minute.


Jamilu Collins of Cardiff City is the alternative left-back option in the squad and head coach Jose Peseiro may call on Porto's Zaidu Sanusi as a late replacement. In addition to Onyemaechi, Nigeria will also miss the services of key players Victor Osimhen, Samuel Chukwueze and Wilfred Ndidi, all sideline injured.


Nigeria's Super Eagles are set to host Lesotho in Uyo on Thursday before embarking on a journey to Rwanda for a face-off against Zimbabwe three days later. South Africa, Rwanda, and the Benin Republic are the other members of Nigeria’s World Cup group, with only the leading team guaranteed to qualify.


Already the camp for the qualifiers has opened in Uyo, with Kenneth Omeruo, Jamilu Collins and Sadiq Umar being the first to arrive. Full training will begin this evening at the Godswill Akpabio Stadium, which will also host the match.


One Nigerian Football Federation (NFF) official said: “The Lesotho delegation will sleep over in Lagos and then fly into Uyo on Tuesday morning where players and officials will be accommodated at the Ibom Hotel and Resorts. The match officials, including the contingent of Tunisian referees, are also expected to arrive in Uyo on Tuesday ahead of Thursday’s battle.”


NFF secretary-general, Mohammed Sanusi, added: “We are working round the clock to see that the Eagles do not fail to pick the World Cup ticket. The NFF has supported the players and coaches in every capacity to start on a positive note by winning the first World Cup qualifier against Lesotho and as well proceed to Kigali, Rwanda, to defeat Zimbabwe to maintain a comfortable lead on the group’s log.”


Rwanda's 20,000-capacity Huye Stadium, located in the city of Butare, 135 kilometres south of Kigali, has an artificial turf. Zimbabwe has adopted Rwanda as home for the qualifiers as no stadium in the country has been deemed fit to host Fifa World Cup qualifying games.


Head coach Jose Peseiro, accompanied by his foreign assistants Maykel Moreira, Acacio Santos and Vitor Hugo, arrived in Uyo yesterday afternoon. Sir John Etim, the secretary of the Akwa Ibom State Football Normalization Committee, was on hand to receive all the players as they arrived.