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I May Be Done After Winning AFCON – Osimhen

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Victor Osimhen won the Serie A title with Napoli last season and ended 2023 by being named African Footballer of the Year, but the striker reckons lifting the Cup of Nations with Nigeria might just top the lot.

While the Super Eagles are preparing to face hosts Ivory Coast in their second group game at this edition of the AFCON on Thursday in Abidjan, Osimhen said, “It would be one of the best moments of my life.

I have done that with Napoli, I have made history, but no matter what I do, no matter how many goals I have scored, to be able to win the AFCON, I would go a long way in my life but probably when I do that I am done,” he admitted.

I am really looking forward to winning something with the Super Eagles.”

READ ALSO: AFCON 2023: Napoli Fans Hit Abidjan To Support Osimhen [Video]

Osimhen is, naturally, the focus of most attention around the Nigerian squad after his exploits with Napoli, scoring 26 goals last season to lead them to their first Scudetto since 1990.

The eyes of Africa’s most populous country, home to over 220 million people, are on him, but he insists he can handle the pressure.

“I have aimed high all my life while growing up, and this pressure comes naturally. I am the kind of person who doesn’t fold under pressure,” he said while speaking at the Nigerian team hotel overlooking Abidjan’s Cocody Bay.

“As the pressure comes I take it into my head to try to give my best and do well for myself.

“So far so good, I have been doing well for my club and country, which I feel like is the most important thing,” said Osimhen, who pipped Achraf Hakimi and Mohamed Salah to the African player prize.

READ ALSO: Osimhen To Sign Chelsea Pre-contract Agreement

“To win the African Player of the Year is just the dream of every young African player. For me to have won it shows the kind of things I have put in, the hard work, the sweat, the tears.

“For me, it is really a dream come true,” he added, appearing relaxed having just finished another interview with Togo’s 2008 African footballer of the year, Emmanuel Adebayor.

The lithe forward spearheads a Super Eagles side packed full of attacking talent and the aim for Osimhen is to lead them to their first AFCON crown since 2013.

Doing that would allow him to take his place alongside Nigerian greats such as Nwankwo Kanu and Jay-Jay Okocha, the latter part of the team that won the 1994 Cup of Nations.

READ ALSO: Osimhen Fuels Speculation Of Future Move To Chelsea On His Birthday

“I used to speak with Nwankwo Kanu and Jay-Jay Okocha. I think I owe a lot of my success to them because they have been sort of an inspiration to me while growing up,” said Osimhen, who announced himself as the top scorer at the Under-17 World Cup in 2015.

To be up there in the same category as them — not that I am better than them in terms of football, but in terms of what I have achieved — I think is huge for me.”

Osimhen is fresh from signing a new contract at Napoli, where he insists he is happy and has “a good relationship” with President Aurelio De Laurentiis.

His previous AFCON experiences have been frustrating, as he hardly featured when Nigeria –- with Odion Ighalo leading the attack — finished third in 2019 and then missed the 2022 edition altogether.

READ ALSO: JUST IN: Peseiro Names Osimhen, Musa, 23 Others In Super Eagles Final AFCON Squad [FULL LIST]

“In 2019 when I came, Ighalo was there. He is a big brother to me, so it was important for me to go through this learning process from him, to get this experience,” Osimhen said.

“I was supposed to be there in Cameroon, but of course, I had my facial injury.

“Now I am here. It is a dream come true for me. I don’t want to put myself in the centre but of course, a lot of people say this. I think I am more of a team player.

“I think we have the quality to make sure we have a very good tournament that we can be proud of.”

Osimhen scored as Nigeria was held by Equatorial Guinea in their opening Group A game, a result that increased the pressure before facing the hosts.

The first game was really disappointing,” he said.

“Going forward we need to make sure we get it right in the next game, which is against a tougher opponent.”

AFP

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Nigeria’s Basketball Team Withdraws From Afrobasket Qualifiers Over Lack Of Funds

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Nigeria’s basketball team popularly called the D’Tigers has withdrawn from the Afrobasket qualifiers window over lack of funds.

D’tigers made this announcement on Wednesday evening after it complained of not getting funding from the Federal Government.

The PUNCH reports that President Bola Tinubu, in January, cleared the outstanding payment that FG owed the Super Eagles and other sporting teams of the country.

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According to a statement on the X handle of Tinubu’s Media Centre, on Sunday, the payment entails the clearing of the senior national team coach salaries running up to 15 months, payments of allowances and promises due to the senior national teams, females, and Under-20 national team.

The statement reads, “President @officialABAT has approved the payment of N12 billion outstanding backlog for Nigeria’s National teams of various sports, which includes Super Eagles and others.

“The payment entails the clearing of the senior national team coach salaries running up to 15 months, payments of allowances and promises due to the senior national teams, females, and Under-20 national team.”

However, D’Tigers on its X handle wrote, “Despite several 2020 Olympians committing, D’Tigers forfeit this AfroBasket Qualifiers window due to lack of funds from the government.”

READ ALSO: US, Europe Stocks Drop As Dollar Rises

Recall that in 2022, former President, Muhammadu Buhari, approved the withdrawal of Nigeria from international basketball competitions for two years.

A statement issued by the then Permanent Secretary, Federal Ministry of Youth and Sports Development, Ismaila Abubakar, said the presidential directive followed the intractable crisis that has dogged and crippled the development of basketball in the country in form of the leadership crisis at the Nigeria Basketball Federation.

The statement said the decision to withdraw the country was made to concentrate efforts by the government towards revamping the sport from the grassroots as well as domestic leagues which have become moribund.

The sports ministry also said an Interim Management Committee will also be set up to oversee the management and development of the domestic basketball leagues in the country to further address other related issues around the development and advancement of the game in the country and to utilise the period of break to address all contentious issues among stakeholders.

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FULL LIST: AFCON 2025 Preliminary Draw

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The preliminary draw for the 2025 Africa Cup of Nations has been held today at the Confederations of African Football headquarters in Cairo, Egypt.

The draw followed the conclusion of the 34th edition of the competition hosted by Ivory Coast.

The preliminary draw had the eight lowest-ranked teams according to the FIFA ranking: Somalia, Djibouti, Sao Tome, Chad, Mauritius, South Sudan, Liberia and Eswatini.

The teams will play on home and away basis during the FIFA Window of March 18 to March 26.

READ ALSO: FULL LIST: CAF AFCON Starting XI

Explainer: Guidelines To Actualise Guinness World…
Below is the full list of the AFCON preliminary draw:

Somalisa Vs Eswatini

Sao Tome Vs South Sudan

Chad Vs Mauritius

Djibouti Vs Liberia

The just concluded 2023 AFCON was held in Côte d’Ivoire and won by the host team, the Elephants.

They defeated the Super Eagles of Nigeria 2-1 in the final of the tournament.

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Emerse Fae Confirmed As Cote d’Ivoire Head Coach After AFCON Triumph

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Emerse Fae was on Monday rewarded for guiding Ivory Coast to the African Cup of Nations title as interim coach by being given the job full-time.

“Emerse was until now interim coach and has just been confirmed today as full coach,” the Ivoirian federation boss Idriss Diallo said.

The Elephants were facing elimination when they fired veteran French coach Jean-Louis Gasset in January after winning just one of their three group games.

The next day, results fell the hosts’ way and they squeezed through as the last of the four best third-placed teams. Fae, a former Ivorian international who had never coached before, took over.

READ ALSO: Messi Insists Hong Kong No-show Was Due To Injury, Not Politics

Fae oversaw an incredible turnaround.

In the last 16, the Ivorians came from behind to beat holders Senegal on penalties. Then, playing much of the match with 10 men, they came from behind to beat Mali in extra time in the quarter-finals.

After beating the Democratic Republic of Congo 1-0 in the last four, they came from behind once more to beat Nigeria 2-1 in the final and lift the trophy.

 

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