Napoli's Osimhen declares himself 'available' for Nigeria at Africa Cup of Nations

AFP , Tuesday 21 Dec 2021

Victor Osimhen said Tuesday that he will be available to play for Nigeria at the Africa Cup of Nations despite currently being out of action while recovering from a smashed cheekbone.

Napoli s Nigerian forward Victor Osimhen (L) fights for the ball with Roma s Dutch defender Rick Karsdorp during the Italian Serie A football match between AS Roma and Napoli at the Olympic stadium in Rome. AFP

Napoli forward Osimhen looked certain to miss out on the continental tournament, which is scheduled to kick off on January 9, after initially being ruled out for three months following surgery on face fractures suffered against Inter Milan in late November.

But the 22-year-old insisted he would be ready to travel to Cameroon with the Super Eagles.

"I will be available for AFCON unless if am not among the players picked to represent NIGERIA," Osimhen said on Twitter.

Osimhen is currently training for Napoli while wearing a protective facemask and waiting for the go-ahead to recommence playing earlier than expected.

He suffered the fractures following a clash of heads with Inter defender Milan Skriniar, and had titanium implants placed in his cheekbone and eye socket.

The Cup of Nations is gearing up for its start next month against a backdrop of persistent rumours that it could be called off or postponed after already having been delayed by a year due to the Covid-19 pandemic.

Last week Europe's top clubs threatened to refuse to release their African players for the event due to concerns over the Covid-19 health protocol.

Many of Africa's leading players are based at clubs in Europe, with Napoli also having Senegal captain Kalidou Koulibaly and Cameroon midfielder Andre-Frank Zambo Anguissa on their books.

On Sunday night Napoli coach Luciano Spalletti described the Cup of Nations as an "invisible monster" that "makes your players vanish from the dressing room".

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