Nigeria legend, Joseph Yobo, has said the loss of Victor Osimhen to injury is a massive blow for the Super Eagles’ 2021 Africa Cup of Nations aspirations.
Following a clash of heads with Milan Skriniar during Napoli’s 3-2 defeat to Inter Milan in Sunday’s Serie A cracker, the 22-year-old was forced off and replaced by Andrea Petagna.
Nevertheless, a statement from the Italian top-flight side revealed that the former Lille striker will be out of action for at least three months – meaning he would be unavailable for the Super Eagles’ participation in Cameroon.
Discussing what Osimhen’s absence means to Gernot Rohr’s squad at the biennial African football showpiece, the country’s assistant coach expressed his gloom about the development – considering the striker’s impact in the three-time African champions’ squad.
“It is shocking to hear that such an integral part of the national team is going to be missing the 2021 Africa Cup of Nations,” an unhappy Yobo told Goal.
“He is a big player, but his health is more important. It is a blow for the national team.
“Osimhen is a young lad who has a lot of potentials and is still developing. I had a chat with him recently and I reminded him of how great he could be. I wish him a speedy recovery.”
“His talent is unmeasurable, his presence, his energy and what he brings to the team as a no. 9 is frightening,” he continued.
“Even when he is not playing well, having someone like him on the field makes the team better because of his energy. He gives everything on the pitch.
“In our last game against Cape Verde, he was everywhere. So, every manager, and every manager would want a player like Osimhen in their team.
“Honestly, it is so sad that arguably the most in-form Nigerian player at the moment is injured and will be out of Afcon. It’s a blow for the national team, it’s a blow for his club and a blow for football fans.”
Football fans have taken to social media to express pessimism over Nigeria’s chances of a fourth African diadem in Cameroon.
Even at that the former Everton and Fenerbahce defender remains upbeat that other players could step up and take the opportunity Osimhen’s injury presented.
“I can feel how bad the fans feel because Osimhen is a focal point of the national team going forward,” Yobo added.
“There are key positions you need to succeed, and a number 9 and goal scorer is one.
“However, when you look at it from the other angle, Nigeria is blessed with so many players, but there is none like Osimhen, the same way there is no striker like [Emmanuel] Dennis, Henry [Onyekuru], [Kelechi] Iheanacho and [Paul] Onuachu – they are all different strikers in their own right.
“They are good strikers and that’s is the blessing with the Super Eagles. It is left for those that are in charge to do the right thing.
“It is a tournament and you never know, other players with their qualities can rise up to the occasion and grab the opportunity.”