Tragedy struck the transcontinental country in the early hours of Monday, and rescue operations continue amidst reports of hundreds dead and dozens more trapped
The Nigeria Football Federation has provided a positive update regarding the contingent of the country’s footballers plying their trade in earthquake-hit Turkey.
According to the football body, all of Nigeria’s football stars in Turkey are safe and away from harm’s way following a powerful and deadly earthquake that struck the southern and central regions of the Asia-European nation.
In the early hours of February 6, 2023, a terrible earthquake hit a few cities in Turkey and neighbouring Syria causing the death of several people.
Many more people are believed to be trapped under rubbles following the collapse of about 6,217 buildings in ten provinces across Turkey.
#BREAKING Death toll from earthquakes in southern Türkiye rises to 2,921, with 15,834 injuries, says disaster agency pic.twitter.com/tdMh5F2g8y— ANADOLU AGENCY (@anadoluagency) February 7, 2023
Even more widespread damage has been recorded after what is said to be the deadliest earthquake to strike Turkey since the 1999 İzmit earthquake.
Several footballers have been reported missing following the tragedy, with Hatayspor Vice-President Mustafa Özat confirming that Ghanaian forward Cristian Atsu was caught under the rubble. Reports suggest, though, that he may have been found.
🚨🇹🇷 Hatayspor forward Cristian Atsu and director Taner Savut have been left under the rubble after the earthquake in Türkiye.— EuroFoot (@eurofootcom) February 6, 2023
Search and rescue teams are looking them now, reports @yagosabuncuoglu. pic.twitter.com/S2IqRo46PK
Nigerian stars in Turkey
The Turkish Football Federation immediately postponed league and cup matches scheduled for Monday after the quake struck.
But worries abound regarding the health and safety of the many Nigerian players who play in numerous clubs in Turkey.
There are at least 22 players of Nigerian descent plying their trade in the Süper Lig, and 1. Lig – the country’s first two tiers.
Top on the list of Nigerian stars in the Turkish top flight are Super Eagles captain Ahmed Musa and forward Leke James, both of who play for Sivasspor.
Nigerian international Henry Onyekuru and David Akintola are both at Adana Demirspor, while the duo of Jesse Sekidika and Olanrewaju Kayode only recently joined Ümraniyespor.
İstanbulspor is home to Michael Ologo and Emeka Eze, and there is the new Super Eagles defender, Bright Osayi-Samuel, at Fenerbahce.
In a statement released on their official channels, the NFF sends prayers and well-wishes to those involved and those who lost loved ones in the catastrophe.
The body, however, assures that all of Nigeria’s footballers in Turkey are not in any danger.
The statement reads: “The Nigeria Football Federation is sad about the unfortunate earthquake in Kahramanmaras city of Turkey.
“NFF President, Alh. Ibrahim Gusau has reached out to Nigerian players based in Turkey, and they have all confirmed that they are fine. We pray the souls of the departed rest in peace, even as we commiserate with the people of Turkey at this time.”
Galatasaray are the runner-away leaders with a nine-point advantage at the top of the league, but Bright Osayi-Samuel’s Fenerbahçe will look to keep up the chase when hostilities resume.
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