Nigeria have expressed major concerns over the fitness of Victor Osimhen, the African Footballer of the Year, ahead of their CAF AFCON 2023 semifinal clash against South Africa. The match is set to take place at Stade Bouake in Ivory Coast.
Osimhen complained of abdominal discomfort, forcing him to miss the team’s flight from Abidjan to Bouake. The Nigerian Football Federation announced that team medics are closely monitoring his condition, with a member of the medical team staying behind in Abidjan with him. Osimhen is expected to join the squad before 5 pm if cleared by Wednesday morning.
The Super Eagles striker has been in exceptional form throughout the tournament and has scored 21 goals in 32 international appearances. However, he has only managed to score once in five matches this tournament.
Super Eagles coach, Jose Peseiro, praised Osimhen’s performance and work rate, describing it as “fantastic.” Peseiro added that the striker’s contributions off the ball are just as valuable as his goal-scoring ability.
This semifinal encounter between Nigeria and South Africa is a repeat of the 2000 semifinal, where Nigeria emerged victorious with a 2-0 win in Lagos. Nigeria has a record-equaling 16th semifinal appearance in their 20th AFCON tournament, while South Africa’s only triumph came in 1996.
South Africa has shown great improvement in the competition, bouncing back from an opening 2-0 defeat against Mali. They secured a spot in the semifinals after a goalless draw with Tunisia, eliminating the 2004 finalists.
South African coach Hugo Broos, who previously clinched the AFCON title with Cameroon in 2017, has impressively led the unfancied Bafana Bafana side to the last four. Despite some fortunate escapes, Broos holds a commendable Cup of Nations record, with five wins, five draws, and a single loss in 11 games over two editions.
Both Nigeria and South Africa have shown defensive strength in the tournament, with Nigeria not conceding a goal since their opening draw with Equatorial Guinea, and South Africa remaining unbeaten since their loss to Mali. However, fatigue may be a concern for South Africa after their penalty shootout victory against Cape Verde in the quarterfinals.
The fitness of Victor Osimhen will be closely watched as Nigeria and South Africa gear up for this highly anticipated semifinal clash. Football fans around the world will be hoping for a thrilling match between two talented teams.
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