AFCON 2023: Why Ademola Lookman has been more clinical than Osimhen in Cote d’Ivoire

Ademola Lookman has been exceptional for the Super Eagles of Nigeria at AFCON 2023, outshining star striker Victor Osimhen.

Lookman has scored 3 goals at AFCON 2023, lifting the Super Eagles of Nigeria over Cameroon and Angola, to book a place in the semi-finals.

We look at three reasons why the Atalanta man has been on fire, compared to Victor Osimhen who has scored just once in 5 games.

The Super Eagles of Nigeria dominated Angola, running out 1-0 winners, thanks to another tactical masterclass by Jose Peseiro.

Lookman is enjoying a free role

Jose Peseiro’s transition to a 5-2-3/3-4-3 has unlocked the best of Ademola Lookman, especially in transitions. 

Lookman starts the game stationed on the inside left of a three-pronged attack alongside Osimhen and Moses Simon, but the 24-year-old has the freedom to drift around the pitch looking for pockets of space to do damage.

Ademola Lookman scored the winning goal as the Super Eagles knocked out Angola to reach the AFCON 2023 semifinal.l || Imago

Ademola Lookman scored the winning goal as the Super Eagles knocked out Angola to reach the AFCON 2023 semifinal.l || Imago

This freedom enables him to evade the attention of defenders, find space, and capitalize on goal-scoring opportunities.

However,  Osimhen, being the danger-man, remains under the watchful eye of the defenders, with little space to operate which often leaves him isolated and unable to impact the game like we know he can.

Nigeria vs Angola: Ademola Lookman and Moses Simon deliver again as the Super Eagles seal a semi-final berth

The Super Eagles secured qualification to the semi-finals after defeating Angola in the quarter-final.

Lookman has less performance pressure compared to Osimhen

Another significant factor is the relatively low pressure on Lookman’s shoulders to perform compared to Osimhen. 

Osimhen came into this tournament with the weight of expectation on his shoulders.

 He is, after all, the reigning African footballer of the year and Nigerians were expecting him to set the tournament alight.

Ademola Lookman and Victor Osimhen celebrate a goal for Nigeria (Photo Credit: FIFA/Facebook)

1 goal in 5 AFCON games is disappointing, but Lookman has stepped up to carry the goalscoring burden. 

With the spotlight often Osimhen, the Atalanta man has been able to play with less pressure, allowing him to express himself more freely on the field and translate his potential into 3 goals in his last two games.

Is Osimhen still bothered by his thigh injury?

Another theory could be that Oismhen is still bothered by the injury he sustained while playing for the Super Eagles last October. 

The 24-year-old limped off during Nigeria’s 2-2 draw against Roberto Mancini’s Saudi Arabia, with Napoli later confirming the striker suffered a medium-grade lesion of the biceps femoris in his right thigh.

Osimhen Nigeria’s striker || Photo credit: CAF/X

He missed seven weeks of action, and while he has been back in action since the end of November, muscle injuries are notoriously hard to shake off. 

Nevertheless, as long as Lookman keeps scoring, Nigerians will celebrate. 

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