World Cup Dream Shattered?


When Super Eagles Technical Adviser, Gernot Rohr rolled out his 30-man provisiona­l list for the 2018 World Cup in Russia, with Moses Simon included, this player believed he was just inches away from achieving his longtime dream of playing in the World Cup. But it was not to be as injury has ruined his dream.

Rohr on Sunday confirmed that the FC Gent of Belgium player will be out of action for between three and four weeks, meaning Simon can’t be part of his team. Nigeria will be short of one player all through the Group stage matches of the tournament should Rohr decide to retain Simon in the final 23-man list to Russia.

Simon sustained a thigh injury in his second training session with the Super Eagles in Uyo last week according the report of the scan he had.

As it stands, he will join the likes of Dani Alves of Brazil, Sergio Romero of Argentina and most recently, Egypt’s Mohamed Salah as list of players who may miss the World Cup finals due to injury.

“It is unfortunat­e Moses Simon will not be travelling with the team on Tuesday (to London) because he is down with an injury. The nature of his injury is such that he won’t be recovering quickly enough to make the World Cup. We are looking at three to four weeks and thereafter, rehabilita­tion training will start before getting to match fitness level. You can see that the situation is not good for him and for the team as well.

“In a few days, we will have 25 and from there we will have the final 23 players for the World Cup. We still have players who can work in his role and I hope his injury will be the last to any player,” the German tactician said.

However, there is a sliver of hope for the player as he undergoes a final scan in London on Saturday.

In an interview with THISDAY, Nduka Ugbade who led Nigeria to win the maiden edition of the U-16 World Youth Championsh­ip in China admitted that missing out of the World Cup with few weeks to the kickoff could be very devastatin­g and an unforgetta­ble trauma.

“For a playing player to be ruled out of a major competitio­n like the World Cup when he is already dreaming it could be very devastatin­g and the memory is not always a good one. It’s something I don’t always like to talk about because it was a painful experience. I was really looking forward to the 1994 World Cup, but, unfortunat­ely, some people actually gathered against me to ensure that it never happened. In fact, I never knew that there would be many more World Cups for me to be involved in because I was so pained that I left football for almost three years.

“I looked at some other things I could do but I couldn’t do any other thing. It affected me greatly but I have forgiven Coach Westerhof as well as those who were part of the decision to leave me out. I think four years later, Westerhof admitted in an interview that I deserved to have gone to USA’94 World Cup. But I have forgiven him and we have met on two or three occasions, and we have made up.

“I feel very sorry for Simon. I hope he would shake it off with time. But the truth is that it’s not a palatable experience. It was one I went through and till today, it still pains,” Ugbade said.

Former Nigeria internatio­nal, Waidi Akani said he felt pained that Moses Simon sustained the injury at such a crucial time in his career.

“Playing in the World Cup is the dream of any player because it remains the pinnacle of football. It is where great players like Pele, Diego Maradona, Bobby Moore and many others made their mark. No other football competitio­n had been able to match it, not even the

UEFA Champions League in spite of all the packaging given to it. Therefore, it could be very cruel for a player to miss out with just few days to the competitio­n due to injury,” Akani, who also missed out of the USA ’94 Mundial said.

Continuing, he said, “When Mohamed Salah was injured in the finals of the UEFA Champions League, he was crying because of the possibilit­y of missing out of the World Cup and not for anything else, because his mind was already set for Russia.”

Akani added, “For Simon, he had worked hard to deserve a place in Russia but the injury has been most unkind to him. I just hope he would not allow it to affect his career. I felt for him really.”

Former Super Eagles coach, Samson Siasia, said Simon would be a big miss for the Super Eagles in Russia.

“Let’s wait for the final list first before arguing this. But if he is left out, he will be a big miss for the team. He brings a different attacking quality to the team,” Siasia told CSN.

Simon scored one goal and provided two assists for Nigeria as they qualified for their sixth FIFA World Cup from a group that had Cameroon, Algeria and Zambia.

Born in Jos, Simon is a product of the famed GBS Academy, the same football academy in Nigeria that produced the likes of Ahmed Musa. In 2013, he signed a pre-contractua­l agreement with Dutch club, AFC Ajax, in pre-season training. He made his first appearance for Ajax on 13 July 2013 in pre-season friendly match, coming on as a substitute.

He received his first call-up by Coach Daniel Amokachi in 2015 and made his debut in an internatio­nal friendly against Uganda.

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