Skip to content

Meet the squad: Osimhen and Boniface spearhead Nigeria’s attack in AFCON 2023

Victor Osimhen, Africa’s Player of the Year, is set to lead Nigeria’s formidable array of attacking talent in the 2023 Africa Cup of Nations. Coach Jose Peseiro has unveiled a 25-man squad for the tournament in Ivory Coast.

At 25, Osimhen made history as the first Nigerian man to clinch the continent’s prestigious individual prize since 1999. His remarkable year also saw him secure the eighth position in the 2023 Ballon d’Or. Despite missing the 2021 finals due to a combination of injury and Covid-19, the Napoli striker is geared up for a stellar performance in the upcoming tournament.
Read also: Discover the wealthiest Nigerian footballers in 2023

Included in the lineup is Bayern Leverkusen’s Victor Boniface, a standout 22-year-old Nigerian striker who has showcased exceptional performance, spearheading the team with an impressive record of 16 goals and eight assists across all competitions this season. The squad also includes eight players based in England, including Fulham’s Calvin Bassey and Alex Iwobi, as well as the Leicester City pair Wilfred Ndidi and Kelechi Iheanacho.

Drawn into Group A alongside Ivory Coast, Equatorial Guinea, and Guinea-Bissau, the Super Eagles, three-time African champions (1980, 1994, 2013), carry high expectations for the upcoming Afcon tournament in Ivory Coast. Nigeria, last crowned Afcon champions in 2013 under the late Stephen Keshi, is widely regarded as one of the favorites for the title.

The 2023 Afcon finals begins on 13 January and will end on 11 February.

Who is Victor Osimhen?

Victor James Osimhen, born on December 29, 1998, stands as a beacon of Nigerian football excellence. A distinguished professional striker, he currently graces the Serie A stage with Napoli and proudly represents the Nigeria national team. Renowned globally for his exceptional skills, Osimhen has earned recognition as one of the world’s premier strikers.
Read also: Study in Germany: Top 5 universities for International students

Embarking on his senior career in 2017 with Germany’s VfL Wolfsburg, Osimhen’s journey led him to Belgium’s Charleroi on loan in 2018–19 before finding his footing in France with Lille. His European football debut came during the 2019–20 UEFA Champions League. In a historic move in 2020, Napoli secured Osimhen for a club-record fee of €70 million.

Osimhen’s accolades extend to his international feats, having clinched the Golden Boot at the 2015 FIFA U-17 World Cup, where Nigeria emerged victorious. Making his senior international debut in June 2017, Osimhen showcased his talent at the 2019 Africa Cup of Nations and currently stands as the fourth all-time highest goalscorer for the Nigeria national team.

His stellar achievements continue with recognition on the global stage. On May 29, 2023, President Muhammadu Buhari honored Osimhen, making him a Member of the Federal Republic. Osimhen claimed the title of Best Male Player of the Year in Africa at the CAF award night, marking the first Nigerian since Kanu Nwankwo in 1999—a 24-year milestone.

He secured the 8th spot in the prestigious 2023 Ballon d’Or awards in Paris, becoming the first Nigerian to break into the top ten. The same night, he once again earned the title of Best Male Player of the Year in Africa.
Read also: Why Germany is a top study destination for Africans

Osimhen won Best Male Player of the Year in Africa
Osimhen won Best Male Player of the Year in Africa

Here is Nigeria’s squad for Afcon 2024

Goalkeepers: Stanley Nwabili (Chippa United, South Africa), Francis Uzoho (Omonia, Cyprus), Leke Ojo (Enyimba, Nigeria).

Defenders: William Troost-Ekong (PAOK, Greece), Bright Osayi-Samuel (Fenerbahce, Turkey), Ola Aina (Nottingham Forest, England), Zaidu Sanusi (Porto, Portugal), Bruno Onyemaechi (Boavista, Portugal), Semi Ajayi (West Bromwich Albion, England), Calvin Bassey (Fulham, England), Chidozie Awaziem (Boavista, Portugal), Kenneth Omeruo (Kasimpasa, Turkey).

Midfielders: Wilfred Ndidi (Leicester City, England), Raphael Onyedika (Club Bruges, Belgium), Joe Aribo (Southampton, England), Frank Onyeka (Brentford, England), Alex Iwobi (Fulham, England).

Forwards: Kelechi Iheanacho (Leicester City, England), Samuel Chukwueze (AC Milan, Italy), Moses Simon (Nantes, France), Ademola Lookman (Atalanta, Italy), Victor Osimhen (Napoli, Italy), Victor Boniface (Bayer Leverkusen, Germany), Ahmed Musa (Sivasspor, Turkey), Sadiq Umar (Real Sociedad, Spain).