Nigeria captain William Troost-Ekong says striker Victor Osimhen asked him to take what proved to be the match-winning penalty in their Group A victory over Ivory Coast at the 2023 Africa Cup of Nations.
Osimhen, the African Footballer of the Year, was fouled early in the second half to win the spot-kick and is the team’s designated penalty taker.
But the 25-year-old Napoli star, who was leading scorer in Serie A last season, passed duties on to the centre-back – perhaps based on the latter’s successful penalty against Ghana in a 2022 World Cup qualifier.
“Victor is our first choice he said he wanted me to take it,” Troost-Ekong, 30, told BBC Sport Africa.
“Of course I couldn’t say no.
“We practice penalties and I took one against Ghana. Maybe it was the moment of the game but I was feeling good.
“I would also have been happy for him to take it but I’m sure he’s going to score many more goals for us.”
Osimhen had found the back of the net in Nigeria’s opener, a 1-1 draw with Equatorial Guinea which made it crucial for the Super Eagles to pick up a positive result against the Afcon hosts in Abidjan on Thursday.
Osimhen, who was said to be upset by a social media post by Napoli after missing a penalty earlier this season, said the crucial aspect about the spot-kick against the Ivorians was that it was scored.
“For me I don’t mind. I can take it and if I score or I miss, it is part of the game,” the striker said.
“But of course he took it and he scored it, and it shows great leadership. The team winning is the most important thing.”
Former Watford defender Troost-Ekong was happy to take the responsibility in the 55th minute, with Nigeria then able to hold out for a 1-0 win.
“I enjoy moments like this, I enjoy the big games,” Troost-Ekong added.
“Pressure is for people trying to think how they can feed their family every day – not for us. We play football and we practice for moments like this.
“We are very happy we came with a clear game plan, we knew that we were going to play against a very good team – we also knew we could outfight them.
“We have so much talent in this team. We looked like a real team, we suffered together as well but in the end our talent showed.”