The confusing injury situation of Victor Moses

Julian Finney

Moses may or may not be hurt. He may or may not be unhappy. One thing's for sure: he's missed Nigeria's last two games but will be needed against France.

After inspiring Nigeria to winning the Africa Cup of Nations earlier this year, Victor Moses had surely hoped to rediscover some of his mojo in Brazil.  His loan spell at Liverpool had been anything but a success, but he had been considered a key man and an undisputed starter for the Super Eagles and opening the World Cup with minnows Iran looked every bit the opportunity to put himself back on the map.

Alas, Nigeria and Iran contrived to play out just about the most boring game of the World Cup so far, with Moses's play failing to reach even the generally dour performances by the rest of the match participants.  He was hauled off just seven minutes into the second half in favor of a 32-year-old Shola Ameobi who doesn't even have a club team at the moment.

Unsurprisingly, Moses was dropped for Nigeria's second match, replaced by 21-year-old Michael Babatunde.  After spending all 90 minutes on the bench, Moses took to Twitter to congratulate his teammates but also claim that he's been dealing with a 'small niggle.' And this is where the story takes a strange turn, for head coach Stephen Keshi claimed afterwards that he was unaware of any such thing.

"I am not aware that Moses has any injury problem."

-Stephen Keshi; source: AfricanFootball

Instead, Keshi implied the decision was tactical (two of our most favorite words: tracking back, as in lack of) and that this would change only "if [the winger] continues to work hard," perhaps also hinting at a lack of effort from the 23-year-old in training.  If Keshi was looking for a positive reaction to all that ahead of Nigeria's third match against Argentina, I don't think he got what he had hoped for.

"Victor Moses has not taken his exclusion well. He refused to be part of the team's warm-up for the Argentina match,"

"This kind of behaviour is not good for team spirit."

-unnamed team official; source: AfricanFootball

Which would then explain why he wasn't even on the bench (after a decent showing against Bosnia, Babatunde got anther start in his stead once again).  Some sources went even as far as to claim that Moses was unhappy with Keshi and that the team considered sending the player home but then rethought their plans in light of Babatunde's massively unfortunate fractured wrist (from his own teammate's shot nonetheless!).

With things threatening to spiral out of hand, Nigeria's leadership moved to quell any rumors.

"It's purely medical, my last child is older than Moses, so why will I quarrel with my son?. People must find out facts and not speculate especially when we have a capable media person in our midst."

"We can understand that all players want to play at the big stage but it's up to us and the medical team to manage their career and balance it with due diligence regarding their health and that is why we have not played him."

"We hope he should be back in training later on Thursday."

-Stephen Keshi; source: AfricanFootball

It is somewhat funny that Keshi was getting mad at the press and the fans (for whom he had plenty of other words, too) when it was he who started the confusion in the first place by claiming ignorance about any injury issues.  But apparently Moses watched the Argentina game from the stands in the company of the rest of Nigeria's technical staff, so it's all good now.

Well, except maybe Moses is still hurt (or hurting) with what he called a "muscle strain." Which could prove troublesome for Monday's round of 16 clash against the heavily favored French team.

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