The Herald (Zimbabwe)

Relief for Warriors. . . . Osimhen out of qualifiers

- Sports Reporter

NIGERIA head coach Jose Peseiro has confirmed star forward Victor Osimhen will not be able to feature for his team when they play Zimbabwe in the 2026 FIFA World Cup qualifiers next week.

The two nations are set to face off at the Huye Stadium in Rwanda on November 19, with the Nigerians having opened their campaign at home against Lesotho next Thursday at the Godswill Akpabio Internatio­nal Stadium.

Zimbabwe will get the ball running in Group C against Rwanda. Warriors coach Baltemar Brito has since named his squad for the two games while Peseriro has taken his time, probably considerin­g the intensity of the games his players are set to be involved in the coming days and the threat of more injuries.

Osimhen and winger Samuel Chukwueze picked up knocks in Nigeria’s friendly draw against Saudi Arabia last month.

The duo has been sidelined since then. They joined in the sidelines injured midfielder Wilfred Ndidi, who plays for English Championsh­ip side Leicester City.

Chukwueze was expected to be named in the squad for both games after returning to training at AC Milan last week.

However, Peseiro confirmed to the Nigerian media that the duo will miss the two games.

“Samuel Chukwueze and Victor Osimhen will not be called up during the next break; we want to avoid any risks,” Peseiro told TV Play.

“I was very sorry for their injuries: the clubs pay the players, and we constantly collaborat­e with them.”

The unavailabi­lity of the Nigerian superstars could be a relief to the opponents.

Osimhen, in particular, has been in dominant form of late, scoring six goals in the first eight matches for Napoli this season.

He achieved the greatest feat in his club career last season when he guided Napoli to their first Scudetto title in over thirty years.

The Nigeria internatio­nal scored goals for fun in the league and the Champions League, as he eventually finished as the first African to win the Serie A top scorer award. Osimhen’s impressive performanc­e included scoring 26 goals in 32 appearance­s, contributi­ng to Napoli’s Serie A title win for the first time in 33 years last season.

He also clinched the Golden Boot as Serie A’s top scorer and netted five goals in six UEFA Champions League matches for Napoli and was a nominee for the 2023 Ballon d’Or.

 ?? ?? Victor Osimhen
Victor Osimhen

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