CAIRO – Super Eagles striker Victor Osimhen has given vent to his displeasure at having not played a single minute for the national team at the 2019 Africa Cup of Nations in Egypt so far.
The 20-year-old RSC Charleroi forward is the only outfield player yet to see action in the tournament with goalkeeper Francis Uzoho the other player yet to see any action.
Speaking exclusively to busybuddiesng.com, the striker confessed to having no idea as to why he’s been constantly overlooked by Super Eagles coach Gernot Rohr for all six games but says he still harbours some hope of taking to the pitch in Nigeria’s last game of the tournament in the third-place match against Tunisia on Wednesday.
“To be honest, I’m not happy but I have to be professional, I have to keep on working hard,” Osimhen told busybuddiesng.com about his lack of playing time at the AFCON.
“Maybe, the coach doesn’t see my quality for me to come help the team but I think I have to be professional and I have to keep on working hard, maybe very soon I’ll get my chance. But if I don’t, of course, I’m always behind the team regardless of if I’m on the pitch or not I will keep on giving my best and I will keep on supporting the team.”
One reason Rohr has given for not playing Osimhen and, before he came on in the defeat to Algeria, Henry Onyekuru, was that both players still have a lot of learning to do. And while Osimhen acknowledges that he is in the nascent stages of his career, he, however, maintains that there is no reason why a player of his quality could not have been afforded even a cameo appearance in any of the team’s six games.
“Everyone is in the process of learning, even the older ones and the experienced ones are still learning,” the striker who bagged twenty goals for his Belgian club side last season said.
“For me, I think I have what it takes to get at least even if it was 30 seconds in the game, but he said I’m learning and of course I’m learning but I think when it matters most I can deliver even when the pressure is high I can really deliver. But, of course, I have to respect his decision and I have to be calm.”
While he continues to bide his time in the hope that his fortunes changes before the end of the competition, the striker has set his eyes on the future and says being a part of the tournament has afforded him the opportunity to garner experience he believes would come in handy when the time finally comes for him “to dominate this place”.
“I am grateful I’m here also because in the future, I think we own this place and we are going to dominate this place. So, I think now whatever I accumulate, the experience I get from here I think it’s going to help me in the future.”
That experience could well be needed sooner than expected with Gernot Rohr having indicated recently that Uzoho and Osimhen could yet see some game time against Tunisia on Wednesday.
And while Osimhen has declared his readiness to step up to the plate when needed, his reaction to Rohr’s words evinces a hidden wariness borne perhaps out of having had to endure to many false promises in Egypt.
“I’m ready of course, [Rohr] said that [I could see some action against Tunisia] but we are going to see if it’s true or not,” Osimhen said.
“Even though I’m on the bench or I’m starting I give everything I can and if I come in or I start the game, of course, I will give everything. This has been my way of life, this is how I play my football; to give everything for the good of the team. So, I’m ready on Wednesday.”