Injured Nigeria strikers Victor Moses and Emmanuel Emenike did not practice on Friday and coach Stephen Keshi likely won’t know whether they can play in Sunday’s African Cup final until just before the game.
Nigeria officials said tests were conducted on both players but did not give any information about the results. Emenike was not on the field Friday and Moses only walked around the pitch as his teammates trained.
Moses, the Chelsea forward who set up two goals in Nigeria’s 4-1 win in the semifinals, twisted his left ankle in the second half, while Spartak Moscow’s Emenike is nursing a muscle injury also sustained in the semifinal against Mali. He scored his fourth goal of the tournament in that game and is one of the tournament’s top strikers.
Nigeria is bidding for its first title since 1994. The Super Eagles hadn’t made it to the final since 2000.
Although Nigeria spokesman Ben Alaiya said both players should be fine to play on Sunday at Soccer City, Keshi said he will likely have to wait until closer to the game to know whether they’ll be fit.
”We’ll see tomorrow (Saturday) what it looks like,” said Keshi, the team captain in 1994. ”We will wait and see.”
Moses was limping badly when the team boarded a plane from Durban to Johannesburg on Thursday, a day after the team’s win over Mali. He appeared in better shape on Friday and was walking normally, but still didn’t join his teammates on the field in the first 15 minutes in which the media had access to the training session in Johannesburg.
Keshi said before the practice session that the plan was for Moses just to jog a little bit.
Moses again didn’t want to talk to reporters about the injury that forced him to be replaced in the 53rd minute in Durban.
”It’s getting better,” Moses said briefly.
Emenike wasn’t even on the bus that took his teammates to the training session on Friday.
”They did an MRI this afternoon, the doctors will give us the information, I’ll be informed,” Keshi said. ”I’m waiting for the doctor to give me a feedback.”
Keshi didn’t want to talk about possible replacements for the regular starting strikers who have been key for the team in the tournament so far.
Nigeria is trying to win its second African Cup title, while surprising Burkina Faso, which eliminated Ghana in the semifinals, will be looking to lift the trophy for the first time.