Nigeria travelled to Bouake in Ivory Coast on Monday without star striker Victor Osimhen ahead of their Africa Cup of Nations (AFCON) semifinal match against South Africa today.
A statement from the team just before departure on Monday night said the forward was down with an abdominal issue and would be staying behind in Abidjan pending medical clearance.
According to the statement, “Victor Osimhen will not join us on this trip as a result of an abdominal discomfort. Team medics confirmed that he has been placed under close watch with a member of the medical team staying behind in Abidjan with him.
“If cleared by tomorrow [Tuesday] morning, he will join the rest of the squad before 5pm.”
It is unclear what the abdominal discomfort is or what might have caused it, although the forward did look jaded when he was taken off late in the quarterfinal win over Angola.
Losing the current African Player of the Year would be a big blow to Nigeria, whose attack has been anchored around the striker’s high press and energetic movement. Osimhen has been involved in four of Nigeria six goals so far at the tournament, including scoring the lone goal in their opening 1-1 draw against Equatorial Guinea.
If he is unable to make it on time for the game, coach Jose Peseiro has options in Leicester City’s Kelechi Iheanacho, Trabzonspor’s Paul Onuachu, and Terem Moffi of OGC Nice.
Onuachu has been the only substitute so far for Osimhen in this tournament, while Iheanacho and Moffi are yet to get any minutes.