Three weeks ago, Nigerian football fans held their deep breath after their talisman striker Victor Osmihen went off injured in Napoli’s 3-2 loss.
Osimhen suffered a nasty facial injury following a collision with Inter Milan Milan’s Skriniar as they both went for the ball.
Although Osimhen had been injured before for Napoli, The severe damage of the injury on his face just by taking a look at it from the screens left many people worried.
But more importantly, Nigerian football fans were worried that their talisman would miss next year’s Africa Cup of Nations.
It is normal for the Super Eagles fans to be worried over the striker’s availability as a fully fit Osimhen is needed if the three-time African Champions want to win a fourth continental title in Cameroon.
The 22-year-old has been the country’s top player since he took over from Odion Ighalo and was the team’s leading scorer during the qualifiers.
Osimhen did go through a complicated but successful surgery on his face before it was confirmed that he would miss three months of action, which all but confirmed Nigerians fears.
However, against Napoli report, Osimhen returned to training, although individual training, just two weeks after his surgery.
And a few days later, it was reported that he could make a return earlier than scheduled in the game against AC Milan this weekend- albeit with the aid of a prospective mask.
The latest news means Osimhen will likely be available for Nigeria in Cameroon, which is a massive boost. But while his potential availability is good news for Nigeria, a lot still needs to change if Nigeria are to win their fourth AFCON title.
The three-time African champions just sacked their coach Gernot Rohr with less than four weeks to go before the competition kicks off in Cameroon.
Rohr had been in charge of the team for over five years, but his position became untenable in recent months due to the team’s poor performance.
Rumours of his sack had been coming for some time, and it was confirmed by the Nigeria Football Federation (NFF) on Sunday night, with former international Austin Eguavoen appointed as his replacement on an interim basis.
However, while Rohr needed to leave as he had taken the team as far as he could, replacing him with Eguavoen does not change anything.
In fact, the Super Eagles hopes of winning a fourth continental title have just taken a massive blow with the decision.
Although he has been in serving in a technical role with the NFF, Eguavoen had not managed a team since 2017, when he was with Sunshine Stars.
This makes his appointment a surprise choice. The former Gent star will be assisted by Paul Aigbogun, Joseph Yobo and Salisu Yusuf, but the track records of these men do not instil confidence.
Yobo has no coaching experience, nor does he possess a coaching certificate. At the same time, Aigbogun’s last two spells in charge of a national team (U20 and home-based Eagles) ended in a disaster.
While Salisu Yusuf is familiar with the team, given he was Rohr’s assistant, it is a disgrace to see him back in a technical capacity with the national team.
The former Kano Pillars man was banned for one year after being caught on camera, receiving bribes to influence his team selection.
And considering what happened with the squad last time out, with the return of Odion Ighalo, it will not be a surprise to see the same situation repeat itself when the AFCON squad is announced.
However, Eguavoen is likely to stick with most of the players used by Rohr because he has no time to create his own team before the competition starts.
Tactics may change, but a majority of the players will be the same. It will be interesting to see how the players take his ideas.
Still, with just over three weeks before the competition starts, Eguavoen’s appointment as Rohr’s replacement changes nothing with the Super Eagles.