Austin Eguavoen, Interim manager of Nigeria’s Super Eagles, says he spent ‘several hours, trying to persuade striker Victor Oshimhen to play at the AFCON 2022 in Cameroun.
Speaking with NFF TV, Eguavoen said Oshimhen decided to stay back with Italian club side Napoli after contracting COVID-19 for the second time.
He also told the gaffer that he needed more time to heal from the cheek surgery he underwent in December.
Eguavoen added that although the 23-year old was clearly disappointed not playing in Cameroun, he insisted he would be there ‘in spirit.
“Osimhen, it’s a pity he’s not going to be in the AFCON, he told me he’ll be in AFCON in spirit.
Practically he pleaded and I could see reasons,” Eguavoen said.
“We tried for like hours, we spoke about it, he said first that’s my concern, that’s everyone’s concern but the fact that we want him to be on the pitch back what he knows how to do best – scoring goals, hustling people.
“When he spoke to me you could see that he was disappointed.
He said to me coach, ‘I’d love to but you have to understand for the fact that I’m not okay and I don’t want to go to AFCON not giving a hundred percent and that won’t be good’, I said okay why not, we let it be.
Napoli had made it clear from the go that they were ready to frustrate Oshimhen’s appearance in Cameroun.
Before the COVID-19 test result returned positive, the Italians were already exploring several legal options to block Oshimhen’s African adventure.
Eguavoen said he did his best to get the 2015 FIFA U-17 world champion on board to no avail.
“I gave him few hours called him back again, same story.
You can understand.
Even at that he has to do some evaluation on his surgery I think on the fourth or fifth before they will now even give a final nod.
“With that sort of injury we have to consider the young man’s health as well, it was a tough one.
“We spoke three or four different occasions before at midnight I said okay you know what let it be and there’s always a tomorrow.
His health first.
Oshimhen has since been replaced by Henry Onyekuru.
Mazino Dickson/NFF TV
How Eguavoen tried to persuade Oshimhen to play