GETTY IMAGES Image caption, William Troost-Ekong stepped up in the 55th minute against Ivory Coast after taking high-pressure penalties in the past

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.”

Super Eagles ‘played with heart’

The victory took Nigeria up to second in the Group A table, leapfrogging Ivory Coast, and Jose Peseiro’s side are now well-placed to progress to the last 16.

“I am overwhelmed. It is a big win for us, a statement win,” Osimhen added.

“We played a disappointing draw against Equatorial Guinea and it was important to come out strong against a team like the Ivorians.”Big respect to the Ivorian team as they gave us a tough time but I think we deserved this win more.”

The West Africans will face Guinea Bissau, who have lost both their games so far, in their final group stage match on Monday (17:00 GMT).

AC Milan forward Samuel Chukwueze believes the team have shown everyone that the Super Eagles are serious about adding to their three continental titles.

“We played with our hearts. This game shows we are ready to fight for Afcon,” he said.

“This group is complicated but the most important game now is the last game.

“There is no small country in this Afcon and Guinea-Bissau are good. We’ve played them twice in qualifying and we lost one.

“We need to win the last game to top the group and ensure we qualify for the next round.”

Nigeria’s biggest dilemma coming into the tournament was in goal, with regular keeper Francis Uzoho coming in for heavy criticism before the tournament.

Stanley Nwabili has taken the number one jersey for the first two games and the 27-year-old hopes the confidence that has been shown him can transfer through to the rest the team.

“When the coach believes in you, you bring more confidence with you into the team,” he told BBC Sport Africa.

“I feel like I can do more to bring that confidence in to the team. I don’t feel like Nigeria has seen my top performance.”

The Chippa United keeper was also quick to defend Uzoho.

“Francis is a good guy and I don’t know why they talk about him. It was unfair, to be honest. He deserved better,” Nwabili said.

“It’s our first time working together – he is good.”