Nigeria wobbled to two boring draws against Lesotho and Zimbabwe over the past few days in the absence of the former Lille forward
The Super Eagles were largely uninspiring as they held Zimbabwe to a disappointing 1-1 draw at the Huye Stadium in Rwanda on Sunday on matchday two of the 2026 FIFA World Cup qualification campaign.
Only three days ago, Nigeria stumbled to a 1-1 draw with Lesotho at the Godswill Akpabio Stadium in Uyo, the most shocking result since the Eagles lost to Guinea-Bissau on home soil in March.
Interestingly, that loss to the Bissau-Guineans is the only time Nigeria has been defeated with Osimhen involved since Jose Peseiro became head coach in May 2022.
Peseiro has found in Osimhen a regular goalscorer, with the Napoli striker becoming the 63-year-old tactician’s default Plan A for the Super Eagles.
Osimhen, on his part, has rarely disappointed.
The 24-year-old forward has scored ten goals and provided two assists, leading Nigeria to five wins and one draw in the seven games he appeared in with Peseiro in charge.
Osimhen scored four in Nigeria’s 10-0 win over Sao Tome and Principe last year and smashed another three in the 6-0 victory over the same side in October.
The Napoli striker was among the goals as Nigeria beat Sierra Leone 2-1 in the first leg, and he grabbed a brace in the 2-3 triumph over the Leone Stars in the return fixture. Once he scores, the Super Eagles win.
However, in the games Osimhen has missed due to injury or not being named in the squad, Nigeria have lost five, winning just one and drawing the other two.
The Super Eagles only scored more than once in just one of those games – the 3-2 friendly win over Mozambique in Portugal last month.
By contrast, Nigeria found the net at least twice in five of the seven matches Osimhen was involved in.
Clearly, in Osimhen’s absence, Peseiro does not have a Plan B.
That condition became even more evident in Nigeria’s matches against Lesotho and Zimbabwe.
Despite appearing sloppy and coordinated for large stretches of the two encounters, the Super Eagles created enough chances to edge to victory if a clinical finisher was on the pitch.
But Taiwo Awoniyi, Victor Boniface, and Umar Sadiq took turns to spurn the few chances the team created.
If he overcomes his injury, Osimhen will likely be the first name on Nigeria’s squad roster for the Africa Cup of Nations in January.
However, should the Napoli targetman, for any reason, miss that tournament, Peseiro will need to find another guaranteed goal outlet if he hopes to reach his semifinal target at the AFCON.