AFCON: Nigeria brace for Osimhen setback ahead of semis

The striker did not travel with the squad from Abidjan

By Web Desk
February 06, 2024
Victor Osimhen was named the African Footballer of the Year. - AFP

Victor Osimhen, African Footballer of the Year, could miss Nigeria's Africa Cup of Nations semi-final against South Africa tomorrow due to a stomach complaint.

The striker did not travel with the squad from Abidjan, where they defeated Angola in the quarter-finals on Friday, to Bouake where the first of Wednesday’s last four clash will be held.

"Team medics confirmed that he has been placed under close watch with a member of the medical team staying behind in Abidjan with him. If cleared by tomorrow morning, he will join the rest of the squad before 5 p.m," a Nigerian Football Federation statement said.

Osimhen's absence would be a major setback to Nigeria, for whom he has performed exceedingly well at the tournament with his impressive work rate.

The Bouake clash is followed on Wednesday by the second semi-final in Abidjan in which hosts Ivory Coast will lock horns Democratic Republic of Congo.

The Ivorians, despite a poor start to the tournament, including an embarrassing 4-0 loss in the group stage at the hands of tiny Equatorial Guinea, reached the semis backed by capacity home crowds.

They will once again take the field at Abidjan’s Alassane Ouattara Olympic Stadium, which is where they came up with timid performances in the group stage but now look a rejuvenated side after their come-from-behind knockout round wins over holders Senegal and neighbours Mali.

“We were at the bottom of a hole after losing to Equatorial Guinea. We had to wait for the (rest of the) group matches to (finish to) find out whether we qualified, which happened. After all that we endured, we are no longer afraid of anything,” said influential Ivorian midfielder Seko Fofana.

“After the Equatorial Guinea match we were insulted and we felt alone. But we managed to get through. Champions always manage to advance,” he added.