Nigerian striker Victor Osimhen has acknowledged pressure on the Super Eagles at the 2023 Africa Cup of Nations (AFCON) tournament in Cote d’Ivoire.
Osimhen said the surprising results and strong performances from traditionally considered smaller teams in the competition proved that there are no more underdogs in the continent.
Notable football powerhouses like Ghana, Algeria, and Tunisia have been eliminated, while teams like Mauritania, Namibia, Cape Verde, and Equatorial Guinea have showcased their prowess.
In Group A, Nigeria’s Super Eagles, alongside Cote d’Ivoire, experienced unexpected outcomes as Equatorial Guinea emerged as the group leaders with seven points, including a convincing 4-0 victory against hosts Cote d’Ivoire.
Osimhen, who featured in all three of Nigeria’s group-stage games, acknowledged the high expectations from fans due to Nigeria’s status as a footballing giant. However, he emphasized the absence of underdogs in AFCON, stating that every team must be taken seriously.
“The pressure is high; Nigeria is a big footballing country, and the fans want us to go out there and play good and win convincingly,” said Osimhen. “But in the AFCON, there is no underdog, and if you have to win, you have to be on top of your game. You have to be focused from the blast of the whistle to the very end.”
While acknowledging the pressure, Osimhen expressed confidence in the Super Eagles’ progress, citing their qualification for the knockout stage.
He emphasized the team’s focus on the upcoming challenges and their commitment to advancing further in the tournament.
” The most important thing for us is we’ve gotten to the knockout stage. Then, we still have a lot of work to do. We are still a work in progress, but I think we are on the right track, and we have the right coach.
” Everything is going smoothly for us, and we are just focused on the next game and trying to get into the next round,” Osimhen remarked.
Nigeria’s next test will be a crucial clash against Cameroon as they aim to navigate the knockout stage and pursue success in the 2023 AFCON.