Hungry for goals and capable of pulling defenders out of positions to open holes for teammates to exploit, Victor Osimhen is always a handful for even the world’s best defenders. Dutch defenders Virgil van Dijk and Daley Blind easily come to mind.
The striker also has an incredible pace that keeps even his teammates on top of their toes.
In his time so far with the Super Eagles, it’s glaring that the workaholic forward, as potent as he’s been, hasn’t struck a deadly partnership upfront with a fellow striker, having played with several partners.
Against Sao Tome and Principe on Sunday in Uyo, coach Jose Peseiro adopted the 4-4-2 formation to accommodate his two in-form strikers, Osimhen and Nottingham Forest striker Taiwo Awoniyi for the dead rubber final qualifier for next year’s AFCON in Ivory Coast.
Osimhen and Awoniyi started in front for the Eagles in the 6-0 win over the Selecao, with Osimhen bagging a hat-trick and Awoniyi grabbing another goal, yet there were flashes that the players were yet to fully understand each other.
Peseiro equally admitted after the game that the Eagles’ striking partnership of Awoniyi and Osimhen needed time and training to gel.
With an array of striking talents before him, the Portuguese is spoilt for choice in the attacking department, with Osimhen his No.1 pick.
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In chronological order, Awoniyi would come first as the Nottingham Forest striker is starting to showcase what he’s all about after a somewhat slow start to life in England.
Awoniyi cost Forest around £17m when he signed from Union Berlin ahead of last season.
Forest struggled at the start of 2022/23, with Awoniyi on the receiving end of the critical English media, but he soon silenced his doubters and finished the campaign with 11 goals in all competitions to help the newly promoted Tricky Trees steer clear of relegation.
On Sunday, he was on target with a sumptuous strike as Nigeria secured a comprehensive win. Beside the goal, he showed composure and strength on the ball. However, his partnership with Osimhen didn’t quite work even though they both got on the score sheet.
Equally a point man as his compatriot, it is difficult to see the former Liverpool man playing elsewhere in the attack and as such Peseiro must look for a way to make both players gel and get along very well.
The two Victors — Osimhen and Boniface — are in red-hot form at the moment and perhaps another concern for the Portuguese tactician.
Boniface made his debut for Nigeria on Sunday and despite being on the pitch for less than 20 minutes, the Bayer Leverkusen forward provided an assist for Samuel Chukwueze, who scored the sixth goal of the encounter.
But one thing was evident in the build-up to the goal, Osimhen dropped a bit down to create room for Boniface, a sign that both players love to occupy the striking position.
Again, Peseiro will have to apply his managerial skills in this area. Can both play together? Or Boniface will play the role of a super sub?
Injury stopped the young striker from making his Eagles debut and he will have to wait until November when the World Cup qualifiers begin.
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Only lacking in height, Orban shares similar features with Osimhen and also loves to play as the man who gets the goal for the team.
The 21-year-old’s name was on everyone’s lips after scoring 20 goals and registering two assists in his first six months at Belgian side Gent, with many anticipating his partnership with Osimhen.
However, with stiff competition upfront, Orban can play from the wings and thus provide the goals for Osimhen, who undoubtedly remains the number one choice.
After finding himself surplus to requirements at Southampton, with manager Russell Martin preferring Che Adams and Ross Stewart ahead of him, Onuachu on Monday sealed a season-long loan move to Turkish side Trabzonspor in a bid to revive his career.
Not only has he lost his place at St Mary’s, where he managed only 12 appearances since joining the club in January, the 29-year-old forward had equally lost his place in the Eagles squad, having missed the country’s last three games.
Onuachu last featured for Nigeria during their 1-0 defeat at home to Guinea-Bissau in March.
No doubt, whenever he is in form, the towering 6ft 7in striker is one of the deadliest strikers on the pitch.
However, being unable to play from the wings means Onuachu will have to battle Osimhen for the striking position.
Both players seem not to share any sort of connection when they played together, with their recent pairing coming in the Eagles 1-0 defeat to Guinea Bissau in March, after Onuachu came on for Kelechi Iheanacho as a second-half substitute. It remains to be seen if Peseiro will consider having both players on the pitch again.
The Leicester City striker started upfront alongside Osimhen in their 1-0 defeat to Guinea Bissau in March and while there were flashes of brilliance, both players were unable to break down the visitors’ defence, hence his early withdrawal from the game.
Iheanacho’s role in the Eagles squad has never been fixated as he has been used in different positions, but his presence alongside Osimhen will definitely open up space for the Napoli striker to exploit.
He operated on the right wing to good effect against Sao Tome on Sunday.
The most lethal partner for Osimhen so far has been Chukwueze, one of his closest friends both on-and-off the pitch.
Both players have been together since their U-17 days and share a special bond, with Chukwueze also admitting that he contacted Osimhen before making a move to Milan. Such a special bond may equally translate to a better understanding on the pitch.
Another forward on the radar is Italy-based Lookman, who provided an assist for one of Osimhen’s four goals in the 10-0 defeat on match-day 2 of the AFCON qualifiers against Sao Tome in June.
With just seven appearances for the Eagles, the Atalanta forward has two assists and two goal, with Osimhen one of the beneficiaries of the assists. His goal in Uyo on Sunday is a testament to the fact that when the goals dry up for Osimhen, he can also be counted on to deliver the goods.
For sure, Peseiro has a serious task on his hands: get a strike partner for
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