Super Eagles defender William Troost-Ekong said that striker Victor Osimhen asked him to take the decisive penalty that gave them a 1-0 win over Ivory Coast in their Group A clash at the 2023 Africa Cup of Nations.
Osimhen – the team’s usual spot kick taker – earned the penalty after being brought down in the box in the second half, but then handed over the responsibility to the centre-back.
“Victor is our first choice he said he wanted me to take it,” Troost-Ekong, 30, said to 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 scored in Nigeria’s first game, a 1-1 draw with Equatorial Guinea, which made it vital for the Super Eagles to get a positive result against the Afcon hosts in Abidjan on Thursday.
The African Footballer of the Year winner said the most important thing about the penalty against the Ivorians was that it was converted.
“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 glad to take the challenge in the 55th minute, with Nigeria then managing to secure a 1-0 victory.
“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.”