Osimhen Confirmed to Miss AFCON, Doubtful for World Cup Playoff

The possibility of Victor Osimhen playing for Super Eagles at the next Africa Cup of Nations tournament in Cameroon was dashed yesterday as doctors who operated the cheekbone injury he sustained Sunday night against AC Milan insisted it may take 90 days for the Nigerian international to return to action.

Osimhen’s club, Napoli, posted the news on their club website almost immediately after the successful surgery to the cheekbone and eye socket by top Italian doctor, Gianpaolo Tartaro on Tuesday morning.

Tartaro was assisted by Dr Mario Santagata and Dr Raffaele Canonico.

“Titanium plates and screws were used in the operation,” said a statement on the Napoli website.

“The player (Osimhen) is doing well and will remain under observation for the next few days,” Napoli statement stressed.

The news will be a blow for both club and country, with Osimhen in a rich vein of form at the moment.

Speaking on the injury and the surgery carried out yesterday, Nigeria’s foremost sports medicine expert, Professor Ken Anugweje, told newsmen yesterday that facial surgery is a safe procedure when it is used for cosmetic purposes i.e. facelift.

“However, when it is used for the treatment of injuries, it is a bit more complicated.

“From the medical report posted on Napoli website, Victor’s injury involved several structures. If there are no post-surgery complications such as infection and scarring, healing is expected to take an average of about six weeks. The face heals fast,” observed Professor Anugweje of the University of Port Harcourt who is also a former board member of the Athletics Federation of Nigeria (AFN).

He concluded that Osimhen should be able to return to action in three months wearing a protective mask.

“He should be able to return to participation in 90 days, possibly wearing a protective mask,” concludes Professor Anugweje.

With the next AFCON kicking off on January 9 in Cameroon, Osimhen is effectively ruled out of the Nigerian squad. The Super Eagles camp is due to open in Lagos on December 27. It is not yet certain if he will be fit enough to be part of Eagles 2022 World Cup final playoff scheduled for March , barely one month after the AFCON in Cameroon.

For Napoli chasing a third Italian Scudetto in the club history, Osimhen’s absence appears to have thrown spanners into the works.

The Naples side presently share same 32 points from 13 matches at the top of Serie A with AC Milan but better on goals aggregate.

Osimhen has scored crucial five Serie A goals and four more in the Europa League for Napoli this season.

He netted four times in six games to help Nigeria reach Africa’s World Cup play-offs scheduled for next March.

The former Lille player also finished as joint-top scorer in qualifying for the delayed Nations Cup with five goals.