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Player Review: Osimhen vs Saudi Arabia – Toothless Striker Fails To Show His Magic

The Victor Osimhen vs Saudi Arabia duel was probably not as eventful as the Nigeria fans would’ve wanted it to be. The Napoli striker failed to really light up the game as much as some had expected him to and was hassled by the Asian defenders all game long.

Our predicted lineup primarily expected a battle of Osimhen vs Saudi Arabia, as the Super Eagles travelled to face the Asian heavyweights at the Estadio Municipal de Portmao in Portugal. Coming off three successive wins in Africa Cup of Nations qualifiers, the Super Eagles looked to continue their impressive form and notch up more points to climb the FIFA World Rankings.

But it failed to be a successful mission. The Super Eagles were held to a 2-2 draw by Saudi Arabia and Osimhen failed to get among the scoresheet. The 24-year-old Napoli striker failed to breach the opposition backline to add to his tally for his national team.

Jose Peserio failed to be vindicated after selecting a strong 25-man squad, and seemed to struggle because of the prior injuries picked up by Nottingham Forest duo Taiwo Awoniyi and Ola Aina, as well as Cardiff City defender Jamailu Collins.

Osimhem vs Saudi Arabia
Photo by Vincenzo Izzo/Sipa USA) – Photo by Icon Sport

Player review – Osimhen vs Saudi Arabia

The performance of Osimhen vs Saudi Arabia came as a bit of a surprise. Prior to taking on the gulf side, he’d scored 20 goals in just 26 appearances for Nigeria. He was close to beating the record of Nigeria’s all-time top goal-scorer, currently held by Rashidi Yekini (37 goals).

However, the Napoli striker was unable to replicate his club form at the international level. The 24-year-old was, of course, not given as much as support in the final third as he expects to receive at his club. He was annoyed by the stacked Saudi Arabia backline, which was almost tailor-made to keep him quiet all throughout the match.

Osimhen probably found himself in a more difficult situation than he would have anticipated ahead of the clash. Because of his impressive form for Napoli, for whom he had scored six goals in eight Serie A appearances, he was marked really tightly by the opposition defenders and did not have it easy at all.

Player review – Osimhen vs Saudi Arabia

Despite coming off a decent run of form for Napoli, for whom he had scored in their recent 3-1 loss to Fiorentina in Serie A, Osimhen didn’t really have the most prosperous outing against Saudi Arabia. He was hassled by the opposition defenders, who did not give him much room to manoeuvre through at all in their final third.

As a result, Osimhen only got two shooting attempts but was not able to test goalkeeper Mohammed Al Owais as much as he would’ve ideally wanted to. He struggled to get himself in those prime scoring areas in the final third or get at the end of prime scoring opportunities for the Super Eagles.

ICONSPORT sipausa 48886714
Photo by Susa – Photo by Icon Sport

Lacking special chemistry with teammates

Some credit should also be given to Osimhen’s key teammates to ensure that his side didn’t lose the game. AC Milan winger Samuel Chukwueze was quite a decent creative for the Super Eagles’ attack, and once more showed his pace to intimidate the Saudis. The 24-year-old used his unpredictable style to create a few decent chances for the Super Eagles, but couldn’t dazzle everyone as he lacked that lethal final product in his game.

Wilfried Ndidi was also proactive and efficient for Nigeria on the night, producing a number of innovative passes and reading the game well. He won back possession over 10 occasions for Nigeria, but was unable to set up anything special for his side.

Overall it was a topsy-turvy turnout for the Super Leagues,  and Pesario was unable to motivate his side to get a dominant win. The Super Eagles will be determined to get back to winning ways soon, especially with the Africa Cup of Nations tournament ahead.

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