Napoli manager Walter Mazzarri has claimed that he has forgiven Victor Osimhen for his sending-off in the 2-0 defeat to Roma last Saturday.
For only the third time in his career, Osimhen was shown a red card for two bookable offences, the second of which came in the 86th minute with his side already a goal down.
Victor Osimhen was shown a Red card in Napoli's defeat to AS Roma 🤦🏾♂️ pic.twitter.com/116qbbR8dl
— Pulse Sports Nigeria (@PulseSportsNG) December 23, 2023
Speaking ahead of Napoli's Serie A clash against Monza on Friday in which Osimhen misses out through suspension, the Partenopei head coach Mazzarri has leapt to the defence of the Nigerian striker in the aftermath of his red card last time out.
“Perhaps he felt the pressure after such a great season and was a bit nervous,” explained Mazzarri in his press conference.
“Unfortunately, he was returning from an injury, and now he will play in the Africa Cup of Nations – I pardon him for the red card because he must be protected.”
A big 2024 awaits Victor Osimhen for both club and country
With Victor Osimhen ineligible to participate in Napoli's final outing of 2023, the 24-year-old is currently back in his home country for his 25th birthday tomorrow after which he will report for international duty ahead of the upcoming Africa Cup of Nations.
Victor Osimhen’s red card only means one thing, he’s arriving early to AFCON camp. AFRICA ARE YOU READY?? pic.twitter.com/UaYj70fqBR
— Yimzy (@oyimzy) December 23, 2023
While Osimhen is already saddled with the responsibility of firing Nigeria to continental glory in Ivory Coast early next year, he will also need to be in top form to save what is fast becoming a dreadful season for Napoli.
The reigning Italian champions currently sit seventh in the Serie A table, four points adrift of the top four and a further 13 points behind Inter Milan in first place.
Napoli have also been knocked out of the Coppa Italia by Frosinone, while a daunting Champions League round-of-16 tie against Barcelona awaits.
So much of Napoli's season from here on out rests on the shoulder of their star striker, who could be set for a summer exit from the Diego Armando Maradona Stadium despite recently putting pen to paper on a new contract.
This article was most recently revised and updated 2 months ago