Victor Osimhen, the African Player of the Year, has arrived in Nigeria in preparation for the upcoming 2023 African Cup of Nations (AFCON) in Cote d’Ivoire.
The Super Eagles striker left Napoli after Thursday’s training session with SC Napoli, as confirmed by a club statement.
“At the end of today’s training, Osimhen obtained a day’s leave so he could join his family before leaving for the national team’s training camp.” We remind you that the former Lille player is disqualified in the championship and would have missed the match against Monza anyway, ” Napoli wrote.
The Nigerian forward was sent off in Napoli’s 2-0 loss at AS Roma and so is unavailable for the league clash vs Monza.
His red card vs Roma was the Partonopei’s second of that game, and attracted criticism from some quaters in Naples but manager Walter Mazzari has pardoned the 24-year old.
“Perhaps he felt the pressure after such a great season,” Mazzarri said at a press conference on Thursday, as quoted by Il Corriere dello Sport.
“Unfortunately, he was returning from an injury, and now he will play in the Africa Cup of Nations. I pardon him [for the red card] because he must be protected.”
Osimhen is not expected to play again for Napoli until February if the Eagles reach at least the semi-final of the AFCON 2023.
The 34th edition of the AFCON will be hosted in Côte d’Ivoire from Saturday, January 13 to Sunday, February 11 2024.
Nigeria, three-time AFCON winners, will play their first game against Equatorial Guinea on January 14.
The Super Eagles are in Group A with Côte d’Ivoire, Guinea-Bissau and Equatorial Guinea.
Osimhen’s arrival marks the beginning of the Super Eagles’ preparations for the AFCON tournament, and he is expected to join the team when their training camp in the United Arab Emirates gets underway.
Having missed the 2021 edition due to injury, Osimhen is set to make a significant impact in this year’s AFCON competition.