• Monday, April 15, 2024
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Napoli manager Calzona hails Osimhen display against Cagliari


Napoli new manager Francesco Calzona has praised Victor Osimhen for his outstanding performance in Partenopei’s 1-1 away draw to Cagliari in a Serie A fixture on Sunday at the Unipol Domus stadium.

The 25-year-old headed Napoli into the lead in the 66 minute following a brilliant assist from Giacomo Raspadori but his effort was not enough to seal an important win for Calzona’s new-look Napoli as Zito Luvumbo netted a last-gasp equaliser for Cagliari.

Osimhen scored his second goal in two matches, but it was not enough for the Partenopei to secure a much-needed victory.

Osimhen who has scored two goals since returning from the 2023 Africa Cup of Nations (AFCON) was substituted in the 85 minutes and the 55-year-old said the Nigerian striker will slowly return to his fine form

“He was only tired. Victor is a fantastic guy. He scored two goals in two matches and will slowly get back in shape,” said Calzona.

“Don’t forget he played at AFCON. Players are devastated when they return. He was tired also against Barcelona, but players always want to stay on the pitch.”

Despite missing over a month of action due to his involvement for Nigeria at the 2023 AFCON, the current African Football Player of the Year has scored eight goals in 14 Serie A appearances for Napoli in the 2023/23 season.

The Partenopei made their debut under new coach Calzona on Wednesday in a Champions League draw with Barcelona, barely two days since Walter Mazzarri was fired. Giovanni Di Lorenzo was sacked.

“We knew Cagliari tended to start strong at home and finish well too, so we were prepared,” Calzona told DAZN.

“We lost possession too many times, which affected us in the first half. The second half was better; we had two chances to kill off the game, but we didn’t do it. At least we were organised, which is important for how I see football.

“We had to be more clinical and we had to be more focused on a ball that was kicked from the centre circle [leading to Cagliari’s late equaliser],” continued the Italian tactician.

“I had introduced Leo Ostigard because he is strong on headers and I knew this could happen in the final minutes.

“We start again tomorrow, from the organisation and the fact that the game management after our goal was decent. Unfortunately, there’s nothing else we can do.”

Napoli have already changed three coaches this season and Calzona returned to the club last week after serving as an assistant to Maurizio Sarri and Luciano Spalletti in the past.