Sports

April 13, 2024

Super Eagles captain Troost-Ekong anoints successor

Super Eagles captain Troost-Ekong anoints successor

Nigeria skipper William Troost-Ekong believes Victor Osimhen has what it takes to be a future captain of the Super Eagles.

The 30-year-old has been a leader in the national team since making his debut in June 2015 in an Africa Cup of Nations (AFCON) qualifier against Chad.

Troost-Ekong was born in the Netherlands and represented the European nation at U19 and U20 levels before switching nationality to play for Nigeria. He has since made 71 appearances for the Super Eagles, while starring in multiple tournaments, including the 2016 Olympics in Rio, two AFCONs and one FIFA World Cup.

Troost-Ekong’s latest tournament was the 2023 AFCON in the Ivory Coast, where he played six out of Nigeria’s seven matches as they reached the final of the tournament. Although the Super Eagles failed to end their decade-long wait to win the Nations Cup, having lost to hosts Ivory Coast in the final, He He won the golden ball and was named in the team of the tournament.

Troost-Ekong sees Osimhen as future Super Eagles captain

The PAOK defender scored three goals in the tournament, two of which came in the semi-final and final against South Africa and Ivory Coast respectively. Having captained his country for two successive AFCONs now, Troost-Ekong has tipped Osimhen to one day take up the role.

Like Troost-Ekong, Osimhen also demonstrated impeccable leadership during Nigeria’s AFCON campaign, and although he scored just once, his work rate and selfless play made up for his lack of goals. He was also instrumental in Napoli’s historic title success last season, leading by example from the front and scoring 26 goals in Serie A to emerge as the league’s top scorer.

“I am a fan of his. I saw his journey when he came to be a part of the Super Eagles in 2019, as an understudy of Odion Ighalo. I saw how hard he worked,” Troost-Ekong said.

“He is a leader in our team, and I tell him that ‘everybody is watching you. The way you play, it drives all of us’. I just try to remind him how important he is and I think he understands that role now and what he means to Nigeria as a person and as a football player.

“I’m sure that he’s going to be a captain of the Super Eagles in future, that’s my wish for him. And for him to win the AFCON and be the leader in that moment.”

Troost-Ekong ruled out for the rest of the season

Meanwhile, Troost-Ekong is unlikely to play any part in the remainder of the season for PAOK after suffering a serious injury just a few days after the AFCON.

The former Udinese and Watford centre-back played through the pain during the tournament but ruptured the biceps femoris in his right foot when he returned to his club and has since undergone surgery in Finland.

The injury caused the defender to miss Nigeria’s international friendlies against Ghana and Mali in March and he now faces a race against time to be fit for the Super Eagles’ upcoming 2026 FIFA World Cup qualifying matches against South Africa and Benin in June.

Should the PAOK defender make a recovery before June, he’d still have to fight for his position following the rise of young talents like Benjamin Taminu.

Troost-Ekong was in a similar position before the 2024 AFCON, having been left in the cold in the months leading up to the tournament. However, he fought his way back into Jose Peseiro’s plans and eventually became a starter under the Portuguese.

The Super Eagles are currently without a substantive head coach, with the NFF appointing Finidi George to serve in an interim role. However, no matter who becomes Nigeria’s next coach, it is unlikely that Troost-Ekong would lose the captaincy, especially with Ahmed Musa’s international career in the balance at the moment.  

Culled from Afrik-Foot