Osimhen Afcon absence: Super Eagles coach Eguavoen makes alternative plans ready

The Napoli striker remains a doubt for the continent’s biggest football festival as he continues his recovery from surgery

Interim head coach Augustine Eguavoen says Nigeria have other quality forwards that can power the Super Eagles to Afcon glory next month should Napoli fail to release Victor Osimhen.

Osimhen continues his rehabilitation after undergoing surgery that corrected the multiple fractures he suffered on November 21 during Napoli’s Serie A clash with Inter Milan.

The Napoli ace is back in training with a teammate as he races against time to be fit for Cameroon 2021, where he is expected to be one of the competition’s major stars.

Il Partenopei’s league faceoff with AC Milan this weekend will come too early for Osimhen. Still, recent reports indicate that the Nigerian international could be ready for his side’s matchup against Juventus on January 6.

That fixture comes three days before the commencement of the 2021 Africa Cup of Nations and five days before the Super Eagles’ first match versus Egypt.

Osimhen could take a late flight into Cameroon after the Juventus game to join the rest of his international teammates.

However, Eguavoen wants the 22-year-old to think of healing completely first, and he admits a lot depends on Napoli releasing him for the Afcon.

“First of all, we hope that he is well and that he can recover as soon as possible,” the Nigerian coach said, as per Gianluca Di Marzio.

“I am sure that Victor has a great desire to play and help his national team, but above all, he must recover his condition as best he can, and then we should understand if Napoli will let him go.”

Eguavoen was named interim coach of the Nigerian national team after German gaffer Gernot Rohr was dismissed last Sunday.

The former international confessed he would rely on many of the players the former Bordeaux manager worked with during his five-year stint in charge of the three-time African champions.

Eguavoen did not, however, rule out inviting a few new stars to strengthen the Eagles.

He continued: “We will work with the group that Rohr has kept together over the years.

“Most of the players have known each other for a long time and have been playing together for some time, but I do not rule out that there may be some new faces in the call-ups. If Osimhen is not with us, we have other good players who can replace him.”

Union Berlin’s Taiwo Awoniyi, Watford’s Emmanuel Dennis, and Trabzonspor’s Anthony Nwakaeme are some of the Nigerian stars who failed to enjoy much playing time under sacked Rohr.

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