Victor Osimhen, a striker from Nigeria, finished with the most goals in the 2023 African Cup of Nations qualifying campaign.
Osimhen scored more goals than the likes of Senegal’s Sadio Mane and Egypt’s Mohamed Salah.
His hat-trick in the Super Eagles’ 6-0 annihilation of Sao Tome and Principe at Godswill Akpabio Stadium in Uyo on Sunday took his tally to 10 in six AFCON qualifying games.
Osimhen’s goals at the 2023 AFCON qualifiers double the number of goals scored by Mane, Zambia’s Patson Daka, Louis Mafouta of the Central African Republic (CAR), and Tunisia’s Yasine Mskani.
The 24-year-old’s goals also ensured Jose Peseiro’s men finished top of Group A with 15 points.
His track record for the last 12 months has been impressive, both for his country and for his club side, Napoli.
Osimhen, who was recently nominated for this year’s Ballon d’Or, led Napoli to win the Serie A title last season and also won the top scorer award in the Italian top-flight league.
Due to an injury, the former Lille star was unable to compete in the most recent AFCON, which Senegal won in Cameroon.
In his absence, the Super Eagles crashed out of the competition in the round of 16 after losing 1-0 against Tunisia.
But in the 2019 AFCON qualifying edition, Odion Ighalo finished as the top scorer in the qualifying series, but he was only able to lead the Super Eagles to win the bronze medal (third place).
Can Osimhen lead Nigeria past the third-place hurdle by winning the 2023 AFCON in Ivory Coast?
The Daily Post reports that the last time Nigeria won the AFCON was in 2013 in South Africa after beating Burkina Faso 1-0 in the final.
Speaking with the Daily Post, Alpha Markus Sidi, a Wakanda FC midfielder, expressed confidence that Osimhen can lead Nigeria to glory in Ivory Coast if he stays fit and injury-free before and during the competition.
Sidi said, “Well, Osimhen is currently in good form, and the AFCON in Ivory Coast will commence at the start of next year, just a few months from now.
“One thing Nigeria will have to pray for is for him to remain fit and injury-free before and during the competition.
“Technically, the Super Eagles team has improved a lot from what they used to be. Now we have more teamwork, and they understand.
“With the likes of Kelechi, Taiwo, Chukwueze, Ademola, Moses, Aribo, Iwobi, Ndidi, and Frank to support him, I believe Osimhen would not only lead Nigeria to win the AFCON in Ivory Coast, but he would also finish as the top scorer in the competition.”
Sidi also called on the Nigerian Football Federation, NFF, to make sure they put everything in place to support Osimhen and his Super Eagles teammates so as to boost their morale prior to the competition.
He added, “We also want to see a better version of the Super Eagles in the future, while the NFF should also work on improving the team’s morale with the right support both financially and psychologically.
“We need to brace up since Peseiro said winning the 2023 AFCON is his priority. We pray that he gets all that he wants to achieve that target.”