Super Eagles’ Victor Osimhen Welcomes Competition Amongst Strikers

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Super Eagles and Napoli striker Victor Osimhen has welcomed the growing competition for places in Nigeria’s striking department, praising fellow strikers Kelechi Iheanacho, Sadiq Umar and Paul Onuachu as they have been outstanding playing for their various clubs across Europe.

Over the weekend, Onuachu continued his superb form, scoring twice for Genk in their 3-2 loss at Royal Antwerp. It was his ninth goal in 10 games for the Belgian club.

The goals took the Onuachu’s league tally to 29 for the season and 33 in all competitions, including the two he scored for Nigeria during the last international break.

Genk’s Paul Onuachu celebrates scoring a goal during the Jupiler Pro League match between KRC Genk and Waasland Beveren

Iheanacho is also enjoying a breakout season with Leicester City, scoring 10 goals in his last seven appearances for Leicester City.

The Nigerian international also led the foxes to the final of the FA Cup after beating beating Southampton 1-0 in the semi-finals. Iheanacho scored the only goal of the match.

Leicester City will be hoping to win its first FA Cup title when they play Chelsea in the final.

Leicester City’s Kelechi Iheanacho celebrates goal with fellow Nigerian Wilfred Ndidi

Umar, who has also been in fine form,  scored his 16th goal of the season for Spanish Segunda division side Almeria over the weekend, as they continue their push for promotion to La Liga.

Almeria are in third place in the division with 61 points from 35 games.

Sadiq Umar

All of these performances have impressed Osimhen, who has been established as Gernot Rohr’s first-choice striker for Nigeria. The forward is welcoming the competition, and says it is good for the national team.

“I think they are all doing quite well — Paul Onuachu, Kelechi Iheanacho and Sadiq Umar,” Osimhen said. “Of course I am happy for them and I’m happy about their form. And of course, being able to capitalize on their current form for the national team is really important.

“Kelechi has been doing quite well and he has been scoring goals. Onuachu also, I think he’s the leading goalscorer in Europe which is very important. He gave us the winning goal in the game against Benin Republic. It shows that we can capitalize on their form and count on them.”

With his compatriots scoring so freely for their clubs in Europe, Osimhen’s tally of five league goals for the season pales in comparison. But his lean time is mitigated by the combined circumstances of moving to a new club, injuries and illness. These all played a big part in his slow start to the season.

“Of course, for me I just need to keep on working hard, keep on doing well for my club and for the Super Eagles also in order to remain the number one and if I’m called upon I think I will give my all and I think this is really important,” Osimhen added.

The Super Eagles in training

“It’s not for me, it’s not for my individual glory, it’s for the team, which is really good and I think the rest of the strikers are also ready to take the spot so I have to keep working hard.”

It has been a while since Nigeria had such a variety of goalscoring forwards. Not since the mid-90s, when the Super Eagles enjoyed the talents of some formidable strikers like Kanu Nwankwo, Rashidi Yekini and so on.

Osimhen says that, and the quality in the rest of the squad, puts the Super Eagles in good stead to claim Afcon glory.

“I think we’ve got everything we need to win the next Afcon and to go even more further to qualify for the World Cup,” the Napoli striker said. “Because this is a squad that has extremely wonderful talent in this team the from the goalkeepers to the strikers, from the strikers to the bench.”

“Also, of course, we have a very good coach and technical staff that can prepare us well for each game as it comes. And I think for us we have individual players who can individually win games for us. The likes of Kelechi, Samuel Chukwueze, Alex Iwobi, myself, Paul and rest of the of the squad.”

“And I know of course, that a lot is being expected from this team regardless of the fact that we’re young. I think with what we got on our side we can really go far as well as winning the Afcon,” he added.


Chidi Nwoke/ESPN.

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