Seated in the presidential box as Nigeria tackled Sierra Leone in the Day 5 game of their group for the 2023 Africa Cup of Nations, President George Oppong Weah of Liberia could not stop singing the praises of Super Eagles’ forward Victor Osimhen.
Following his excellent season in which he scored 25 league goals to steer SC Napoli to their first Italian Serie A title in 33 years, President Weah, the 1995 World, European and African Footballer of the Year had penned a personal letter to Osimhen asking him to keep working hard and breaking new grounds.
On Sunday, as he sat in the presidential box of the Samuel Kanyon Doe Stadium in Paynesville with Nigeria’s Ambassadors to Liberia and Sierra Leone – Godfrey Odudigbo and Henry Omakwu respectively, President of NFF, Ibrahim Musa Gusau, NFF General Secretary, Dr. Mohammed Sanusi, NFF Board Members Nse Essien and Sunday Dele-Ajayi, among others, Weah could not stop singing Osimhen’s praises.
The Napoli forward did not disappoint, with an outstanding performance, scoring in the 20th and 33rd minutes to steer Nigeria into a 2-0 lead.
“That is what I call a striker. Good positioning always. Very athletic and knows where to be each time the ball is coming. He is so strong and a fighter par excellence.”
The Nigeria forward is now the leading scorer in the qualifying series with seven goals, and has now racked up an impressive tally of 17 goals in 25 matches for Nigeria at senior level.
Osimhen’s seven goals in this qualifying campaign include the one goal he scored against Sierra Leone in Abuja in June 2022 to eventually give Nigeria a 2-1 win and three points on the first day of the series, and four of the 10 goals against Sao Tome and Principe in Agadir, Morocco few days later, on a day Nigeria set a new international win-record.
Apart from President Weah, members of the Nigerian community in Liberia as well as other ecstatic fans of Osimhen from Liberia and Sierra Leone trooped to the window area of the Super Eagles’ dressing room trying to force it open while shouting: “We want Victor!”
Osimhen’s two goals took Nigeria in front before Mustapha Bundu and Augustus Kargbo drew level, but in added period, Kelechi Iheanacho made good from a dashing run by Zaidu Sanusi that stunned the Sierra Leone defence.
Victory took Nigeria to the 2023 Africa Cup of Nations finals with 12 points, with a match to spare, alongside second-placed Guinea Bissau, on 10. The Leone Stars crashed out with only five points.
Hosts Cote d’Ivoire, Morocco, Algeria, South Africa, Senegal, Burkina Faso, Tunisia, Egypt, Zambia, Equatorial Guinea, Nigeria, Cape Verde, Guinea Bissau and Mali are the 14 countries that have qualified for Cote d’Ivoire 2023, with the remaining 10 to emerge in September.
Nigeria will host group whipping boys, Sao Tome and Principe in a purely academic exercise in September.