Can Victor Osimhen bounce back from recent mishaps?
Super Eagles young first choice centre forward Victor Osimhen has definitely seen better days in a football career that had seen much highs up till now.
Having played zero part in Nigeria’s 2019 Afcon expedition safe for the near-meaningless 3rd place consolation playoff against Tunisia, Osimhen wasted no time in making the number 9 position for the national team his personal property post-Afcon. His boots rained goals incessantly.
But such a position comes with huge weight of responsibility and perhaps the most visible spot in the spotlight for players.
Apart from being Nigeria’s top marksman, he is also the most expensive African striker following a big money move to Napoli at the end of last season.
The Super Eagles need goals and plenty of them if Nigerian flag is to be flown at the 2022 Africa Cup of Nations and the World Cup later on in the same year.
For that to happen, the arrow head of the team has to be fully focused mentally in order to rise up to the challenges ahead.
Victor Osimhen can do without the distractions brought about by recent events.
His November shoulder injury during national assignments and reported allegations between Napoli and Super Eagles officials of poor medical protocols dominated media space instead of his convalescence reports.
With Napoli needing his goals to gain grounds in the Italia Serie A, Osimhen’s unfortunate injury came at the worst possible time.
In the immediate six matches before Osimhen’s unfortunate shoulder injury, Napoli won 5 and lost 1. Six matches since his injury, Gli Azzurri (as Napoli are also known) have won 3 and narrowly lost 3 games.
Osimhen has been missed.
And just as he was going to make his return, he contracts the much dreaded Covid-19 after clips of him having a mini-party was circulated on social media.
He has now been slapped with a fine by Napoli ‘for not respecting the club’s regulations’.
Fans’ optimism had greeted Osimhen’s move to move to Napoli where it was hoped that he would paint the league green with goals. The goals had trickled in – 2 in 8 games – but many including Osimhen himself wanted a flood.
The storm clouds had been gathering as he found the back of the net on his last game against Bologna on 8 November before reporting for national duties against Sierra Leone.
Now, the grounds of Italy will have to wait that bit longer before rain of goals from Osimhen’s boots.
He is a likeable gentleman. Most if not all Super Eagles fans have taken to Osimhen and have no qualms in him leading the lines for Nigeria.
But, if he should lose his concentration too long, the likes of Taiwo Awoniyi and Sadiq Umar are waiting to wrestle the number 9 shirt off him. These are strikers hugging headlines for all the right reasons.
Distractions and injuries are a potent mix currently derailing the national team career of goalkeeper Francis Uzoho.
Osimhen should be mindful. He is currently Nigeria’s most high profile player. He has got football skills, acumen and intellect at a very superior level. He needs a concentration level to match and even exceed these. And he will be able to build on what is already a hugely promising and remarkable career to this point.
Injuries, nobody can do anything about, but concentration, this variable is 100% in the hands of a footballer.
Another key variable is the ability to bounce back from setbacks.
This is something observers will be looking at in the coming months to see whether Osimhen can put recent events behind him and do what he does best: rain goals!
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