Former Nigeria midfielder Mutiu Adepoju says the absence of injured Victor Osimhen will be a ‘big miss’ for the Super Eagles at the rescheduled 2021 Africa Cup of Nations in Cameroon early next year.
The in-form Napoli striker will be out for three months, which ultimately rules him out of the AFCON, after sustaining a facial injury while playing for the Naples side against Inter in Serie A recently.
The 22-year-old former Lille and Wolfsburg forward has enjoyed a rich vein of form so far this season, scoring 9 goals in 14 appearances across all competitions for Napoli. He was also instrumental in Nigeria’s qualification to the AFCON, firing in 5 goals to finish as joint-top scorer with Zambia’s Patson Dhaka.
Though 50-year-old former Real Sociedad midfielder Adepoju believes there are capable replacements for Osimhen in the Eagles team, Adepoju admitted that the striker’s ‘absence is going to be felt’.
“It’s going to be a very big miss because we’ve seen what he has done in his club and the Super Eagles,” the 1994 AFCON winner told www.busybuddiesng.com via a phone interview.
“He is one of the best strikers we have now, and I think his absence is going to be felt.
“There are replacements but the only thing is that he has been in the team, he’s a regular and he is doing very well. So, definitely, it’s going to be felt.
“But we can get a replacement. We have (Paul) Onuachu, we have (Taiwo) Awoniyi, we have (Kelechi) Iheanacho, we have a series of strikers that are doing well. But definitely, Osimhen will always be Osimhen, and his absence is going to be felt.”
On the abilities of the potential replacements for Osimhen to deliver like the Napoli star, Adepoju said: “Players are different. You cannot put players in the same way. For example, Osimhen is a different player from the others.
“So, we are going to have replacements, but it might not be the same way we have in Osimhen, but definitely, we players that can live up to expectation.”
The 2021 AFCON starts on 9 January and ends on 6 February 2022.
Nigeria are in Group D alongside the most successful team in the competition’s history Egypt, Sudan and Guinea Bissau.