Despite many of the biggest stars being eliminated from this year’s Africa Cup of Nations (AFCON), Nigeria’s Victor Osimhen, the reigning African Player of the Year, remains in contention as he leads Super Eagle’s quest for the title.

AFCON: Osimhen
AFCON: Osimhen

The 25-year-old Napoli striker, known for his goal-scoring prowess, has significantly impacted Nigeria’s performance in the tournament.

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Osimhen, who netted 10 goals in qualifying, has only scored once in the AFCON 2023, but his contribution goes beyond goal-scoring. He played a vital role in securing a 1-0 victory over Ivory Coast and delivered an impressive performance in the 2-0 win against Cameroon in the Round of 16. Osimhen’s work rate, energy, and ability to create opportunities have been instrumental in Nigeria’s campaign.

Nigeria’s coach, Jose Peseiro, values defensive solidity and Victor’s tireless efforts in pressing opposition defenses contribute to the team’s defensive stability. Despite collapsing on the turf at halftime in the match against Cameroon, Osimhen recovered to continue his relentless pursuit of the opposition.

Although he has had 15 shots in the tournament, with only one goal, Victor’s expected goals (XG) are the highest in the tournament at 2.78, according to data from Opta Analyst. This statistic reflects the quality of his goal-scoring opportunities.

His performances and team-oriented mindset have earned him praise, with former Ghana striker Asamoah Gyan commending his passion and dedication to the team. As Nigeria aims for its fourth continental crown, Victor is expected to play a crucial role in the team’s success.

Despite his statistics, he emphasizes his team-oriented approach, stating, “I don’t care even whether I start or not. For me to be there playing with them is a big one for me. I want to keep on helping the team.” His selflessness and commitment make him an essential asset for Nigeria in the latter stages of the African Cup of Nations 2023.

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