Italian Serie A champions, Napoli, have granted Victor Osimhen permission to join Nigeria’s national team for the upcoming 2023 Africa Cup of Nations (AFCON). The announcement comes as Osimhen, who celebrated his 25th birthday on Friday, is expected to feature prominently in Nigeria’s squad for the competition scheduled to take place in Cote d’Ivoire next January.
Napoli confirmed Osimhen’s release after Thursday’s training session, allowing him a day off to spend time with his family before reporting to the national team’s training camp. Notably, Osimhen is currently disqualified in the Serie A and will miss the upcoming match against Monza.
This will be Osimhen’s second appearance in the AFCON, having been part of the Super Eagles’ squad in the 2019 finals hosted by Egypt. He missed the last AFCON in Cameroon due to injury. The Super Eagles, led by coach Jose Peseiro, are drawn in Group A alongside Côte d’Ivoire, Guinea-Bissau, and Equatorial Guinea. Their first game is against Equatorial Guinea at the Alssanne Quattara Stadium, Ebimpe, Abidjan, on Sunday, January 14.
Victor Osimhen to Spearhead Nigeria’s Attack in AFCON 2023
Victor Osimhen, the prolific Napoli striker, will lead Nigeria’s attacking lineup in the 2023 Africa Cup of Nations, aiming for glory in Ivory Coast. Coach Jose Peseiro recently unveiled a 25-man squad for the tournament, showcasing a formidable array of attacking talent.
Osimhen, who missed the 2021 finals due to injury and Covid-19, comes into the AFCON on the back of a stellar season, winning the 2023 African Footballer of the Year and finishing eighth in the 2023 Ballon d’Or. He is joined by other talented forwards, including Victor Boniface and Samuel Chukwueze.
The squad, featuring eight players from English clubs, includes Calvin Bassey, Alex Iwobi, Wilfred Ndidi, and Kelechi Iheanacho. Coach Peseiro opted for a blend of experience and youth, including only one domestic player, goalkeeper Leke Ojo from Enyimba.
Nigeria, last crowned AFCON champions in 2013 under the late Stephen Keshi, is placed in Group A alongside Ivory Coast, Equatorial Guinea, and Guinea-Bissau. The tournament kicks off on January 13, culminating in the final on February 11.