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CYPRUS: Cypriot football shamed over Uzoho health card fiasco

11 February, 2019

Cyprus hit the international headlines with a scandal involving an allegedly falsified health certificate issued to Nigeria’s World Cup goalkeeper loaned to Anorthosis Famagusta from Deportivo La Coruna, one of Spain’s most popular teams.


Nigeria goalkeeper Francis Uzoho has found himself caught up in a probe involving falsifying of a medical certificate – that allows him to play in Cyprus - when joining Anorthosis, while the club’s acting President Dr Kyriakos Yiangou is in police custody.

The health certificate in question was issued while the player was in mid-air aboard a flight to Cyprus in order to join the Famagusta club on loan from Deportivo.

The case unravelled just 24 hours after joining the Cypriot team and after playing a leading role in the victory over title contenders Apollon Limassol.

Defeated Apollon filed a protest citing irregularities in the mandatory health certificate issued for the Nigerian by the Cyprus Sports Organisation (KOA).

Apollon stated in their appeal that while Uzoho arrived in Cyprus at 16.05 on Friday 1 February, KOA’s department dealing with such issues had already shut at 14.30 that same day.

Apollon have questioned the validity of the health certificate, wondering how Anorthosis were able to acquire the document in time. KOA initially said that no foul play was involved and that the health certificate was valid.

But the Nigerian goalkeeper had testified that he was in mid-air at the time his health certificate was issued.

Following the player’s testimony and a police investigation, Anorthosis’ acting president, a known cardiologist, was arrested to facilitate the investigation on Saturday and was remanded in custody for three days. Police have not commented on Yiangou’s possible involvement in the case.

Anorthosis, the club’s acting president and the player may pay a heavy price if wrongdoing is proven.

The club could find itself losing 9 point (their win against Apollon will be annulled plus a 6 point deduction), while Yiangou could face criminal charges for falsifying documents.

As far as Uzoho is concerned, it depends on whether he was aware of any wrongdoing.

He was left out of the Anorthosis squad against Salamina last Saturday.

Anorthosis, sixth in the Cypriot first division, said: "Due to the climate of recent days and to avoid further disruption and rumours, Francis Uzoho will not be involved in Saturday's clash with Nea Salamina."

Meanwhile, the Cyprus Football Association is to decide on the fate of the game between the Famagusta team and Apollon on Wednesday, pending the conclusion of the police investigation.

Uzoho, remembered for his excellent World Cup 2018 performance, joined the Cypriot team on loan from Deportivo on transfer deadline day. He wanted top-flight football ahead of the 2019 Africa Cup of Nations.

Nigeria’s first-choice keeper moved to Cyprus after an injury-hit campaign and lack of regular football in Spain became a source of concern for Super Eagles coach Gernot Rohr ahead of the tournament in Egypt.

Capped 12 times by Nigeria, he played all three group-stage matches before the ‘Super Eagles’ exited the World Cup in Russia.

In October 2017, Uzoho became the youngest foreign goalkeeper to ever play in La Liga and marked a memorable Deportivo La Coruna debut with a clean sheet.