06.11.2023, 05:52

Emmanuel Amuneke Believes Victor Osimhen Has Potential for Top Level Football

Emmanuel Amuneke Believes Victor Osimhen Has Potential for Top Level Football

Nigerian football icon Emmanuel Amuneke has expressed confidence in Victor Osimhen's abilities, anticipating that the Nigerian forward will continue to excel following his impressive eighth-place finish in the 2023 Ballon d'Or rankings.

Osimhen, 24, not only topped the list as the best African player but also achieved the highest ranking ever for a Nigerian in the award's history since 1956, thanks to his phenomenal 26-goal tally that propelled Napoli to their first Italian championship in over three decades during the 2022-23 season.

Furthermore, Osimhen's record-breaking exploits have seen him surpass the Serie A goal record for an African player, a title previously held by 1995 Ballon d'Or laureate and current Liberian President George Weah.

"His ambition and determination to make a mark and win are unquestionable," said Amuneke, who coached Osimhen at the Nigeria Under-17 level, to BBC Sport Africa. "Those qualities are crucial for any player aspiring to reach the pinnacle of football."

In another headline-worthy achievement, Lionel Messi secured his eighth Ballon d'Or title. Meanwhile, Osimhen led the goal-scoring charts during the qualifiers for the 2023 Africa Cup of Nations (Afcon), netting 10 goals and placing him in solid contention for the Confederation of African Football (Caf) men's player of the year award.

Osimhen stands among other football heavyweights on the 30-man shortlist for the accolade, including Liverpool's Mohamed Salah and Paris St-Germain's Achraf Hakimi. The winner, which could potentially be Osimhen, marking him as the first Nigerian victor since Nwankwo Kanu in 1999, will be revealed in the forthcoming ceremony in Marrakech, Morocco.

Amuneke, the 1994 African player of the year, highlighted Osimhen's impact on both his club and the Nigerian national team and voiced hope for Osimhen's Caf award triumph despite Nigeria's absence from the World Cup the previous year.

Amuneke, who has played with managerial great Pep Guardiola at Barcelona, also reminisced about Osimhen's near exclusion from Nigeria's squad for the U17 World Cup in 2015. Following his staff's insistence, Amuneke gave Osimhen another opportunity to prove himself. Osimhen seized the chance, eventually leading to a historic 10-goal performance that helped Nigeria secure the U17 World Cup for the fifth time.


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