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Africa Cup of Nations

Will Napoli star Osimhen play for Nigeria at Afcon 2021?

21:04 GMT+3 14/12/2021
Victor Osimhen, Nigeria
Here’s what you need to know about the chances of the Nigeria star featuring at the biennial African football showpiece

Victor Osimhen undisputedly is one of Nigeria’s hottest properties in Europe at the moment, churning in impressive performances week in week out.

At the start of the 2021-22 campaign, he accounted for five league goals in 11 matches for the Parthenopeans. On the international scene, he played a crucial role as the Super Eagles qualified for the third round of the 2022 Fifa World Cup qualifiers.

Many had even tipped him to lead Nigeria to glory at the 2021 Africa Cup of Nations billed for Cameroon, albeit, a change in fortune recently may not see that become a reality - and GOAL looks into why.

Victor Osimhen

Why Osimhen is a doubt for Afcon 2021?

Osimhen may not be representing the three-time African champions, Nigeria due to injury.

The striker picked up a face injury, during the second half of the Parthenopeans’ 3-2 to defeat to Inter Milan on November 22.

Osimhen was involved in a clash of heads with Inter’s Milan Skriniar and he was replaced by Andrea Petagna four minutes before the hour mark at San Siro Stadium.

As a result, the 22-year-old had surgery on his displaced fractures of the orbit and left cheekbone with the club disclosing that he would be out for three weeks – meaning he would miss the biennial African football showpiece.

“Victor Osimhen was operated on his cheekbone and eye socket by Gianpaolo Tartaro, who was assisted by Dr Mario Santagata with Dr Raffaele Canonico also present,” it read.

“Titanium plates and screws were used in the operation. The player is doing well and will remain under observation for the next few days.

“Osimhen is expected to return to action in three months.”

HP ONLY Victor Osimhen Napoli 2021-22

What's been said?

Learning about his injury, Nigeria assistant coach Joseph Yobo lamented the Lagos-born star’s predicament stating it is a massive blow for the Eagles’ Afcon aspirations.

“It is shocking to hear that such an integral part of the national team is going to be missing the 2021 Africa Cup of Nations,” Yobo told GOAL.

“He is a big player, but his health is more important. It is a blow for the national team.

“Osimhen is a young lad who has a lot of potentials and is still developing.

“His talent is unmeasurable, his presence, his energy and what he brings to the team as a no. 9 is frightening.

“Even when he is not playing well, having someone like him on the field makes the team better because of his energy. He gives everything on the pitch."

What is the update on Osimhen’s injury?

Although the Italian elite division giants claimed the African would return in early February, that was not the case as Osimhen resumed training 16 days after his surgery.

According to a source close to the player, manager Luciano Spalletti could name him in the squad to tackle AC Milan on December 19.

Even at these positives, the former Lille may not be released for Cameroon 2021 which is just three weeks away from commencement as Napoli would want him to regain top form.

Should that be the case, coach Eguavoen - who is keen on leading the West Africans to a fourth African title - will have to count on other strikers for goals. 

Nigeria's last triumph was in 2013 when it was hosted by South Africa.