Nigeria forward Victor Osimhen is donning a mask in the Africa Cup of Nations final against the Ivory Coast. The Napoli star’s decision to wear the mask has drawn attention, prompting questions about its necessity.
Osimhen has been a key figure for the Super Eagles throughout the tournament, contributing with one goal and one assist. In the showdown against the Ivory Coast, he leads the line for Nigeria.
Notably, Ivory Coast has navigated through the tournament with two different managers, following the departure of Jean-Louis Gassée after the group stage.
Observers of the match would have observed Osimhen’s distinctive mask, which he has been wearing since suffering a facial injury. The injury, a fractured eye socket, occurred during a Serie A match in November 2021 and required several months to heal fully.
Despite being fully recovered, Osimhen continues to wear the mask, citing personal preference and a feeling of security.
Napoli’s chief doctor, Roberto Ruggiero, clarified that Osimhen wears the mask voluntarily, finding comfort and reassurance in it. He explained in an interview with Italian outlet Radio Marte that Osimhen, although fully healed, prefers the added protection the mask provides.
In a recent interview, Osimhen himself acknowledged that he would need to wear the mask for the duration of his career due to screws implanted in his jaws and face. He emphasized the importance of the mask in preventing further injury, citing instances of bloodshed even while wearing it.
Despite facing injury concerns ahead of Nigeria’s semi-final clash with South Africa, Osimhen was deemed fit to play and contributed to his team’s victory. Similarly, he received clearance to feature in the final against the Ivory Coast, where Nigeria secured a first-half lead through William Troost-Ekong, a former Watford defender.