Could Osimhen miss Nigeria’s AFCON squad for blasting the NFF?

Victor Osimhen (r) called the NFF out over their failure to pay the Super Falcons (IMAGO)

Could Osimhen miss Nigeria’s AFCON squad for blasting the NFF?

Joba Ogunwale 15:44 - 14.08.2023

Osimhen was not in Nigeria’s squad for the last Africa Cup of Nations due to injury, but could he miss a second successive tournament for another reason?

Victor Osimhen is Nigeria’s top player right now, but it is hard to believe that the 24-year-old has played just 45 minutes for Nigeria in a major competition.

Although Osimhen came into the public consciousness at an international tournament, it was not at the senior level. 

Osmihen's Super Eagles record in major tournaments 

Osimhen first broke into the limelight at the 2015 FIFA U-17 World Cup, leading Nigeria’s Golden Eaglets to the title. 

Since then, Osimhen has gone on to become Nigeria’s top player, as expected, although he had to overcome challenges (malaria) on the way. 

Osimhen broke out at the U-17 FIFA World Cup
Victor Osimhen celebrates his goal against Mali during final FIFA U-17 World Cup Chile 2015.

Right now, no Nigerian player is close to Osimhen in terms of profile and level of football. He is currently Africa’s second most-expensive player after joining Napoli from Lille for a club-record fee of 75m euros in 2020. 

Not only that, but the 24-year-old is one of the best strikers in the world after scoring 31 goals in all competitions last season, including 26 that fired Napoli to their Serie A title. 

Osimhen scored 26 goals which fired Napoli to the league title
Napoli superstar Victor Osimhen (IMAGO)

However, for all of Osimhen’s achievements at the club level, he is yet to transform them into international tournaments in Nigeria. 

Osimhen did make his senior debut in 2015, but he never played in a major international tournament for Nigeria until 2019, no thanks to illness and injuries. 

The Nigerian striker missed the Super Eagles World Cup campaign in 2018 but made the squad for AFCON in 2019. 

However, Osimhen only featured in the second half of the third-place clash against Tunisia. After the tournament, though, Osimhen established himself as Nigeria’s number one striker. 

But surprisingly, Osimhen has not represented Nigeria in a major international tournament since then. 

He missed the 2021 AFCON, which was rescheduled for 2022, due to injury. Osimhen also missed the Qatar 2022 FIFA World Cup after Nigeria failed to qualify. 

Osimhen has only played in just one international tournament for Nigeria
Osimhen in Nigeria's colours (IMAGO)

Next year’s AFCON is set to be just his second major tournament with Nigeria, but Osimhen could even miss that. 

Could Osimhen suffer the same consequence as Oparanozie? 

While nothing is confirmed yet, the former Lille man could reportedly miss the tournament after calling out the Nigeria Football Federation (NFF) on Twitter. 

Osimhen called out the NFF in response to Asisat Oshoala’s post on Instagram. Oshoala had reposted a statement from FIFPRO, which condemned the NFF for their failure to pay the Super Falcons their allowances. 

The FIFPRO has released a statement in support of the Super Falcons
Oshoala, FIFPRO and Osimhen have called out the NFF (IMAGO)

Osimhen reacted to the post, saying “Pay them NFF”, with an embarrassed emoji. The 24-year-old was not the only Nigerian player to comment, but it appears his comment hit NFF’s nerve. 

While it would still be a big decision to stop Osimhen from playing in next year’s AFCON, the NFF appears to be disappointed with Osimhen’s decision to call out the body publicly.

For that reason, the governing body could decide to snub the Napoli man for next year’s competition. 

Considering a similar situation happened with Desire Oparanozie, it is not far-fetched to say that Osimhen could face similar punishments. 

Oparanozie did not play for the Super Falcons until this year after he spoke out against the NFF
Nigeria's Desire Oparanozie (Imago)

Oparanozie was blacklisted from the Super Falcons squad for almost four years after she blasted the NFF for failing….wait for it….to pay the players at the 2019 Women’s World Cup. 

Osimhen could now suffer the same consequence for speaking out on the same issue four years later. 

However, the only reason why he may avoid a similar fate is because he is Nigeria’s biggest player. 

His potential omission will definitely cause an outrage the NFF may not be able to deal with. 

On the other hand, however, you never know what to expect from the NFF. 

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