Super Eagles abroad – Balogun strong, Boniface off the mark, and Awoniyi hurts Arsenal again

Super Eagles abroad – Balogun strong, Boniface off the mark, and Awoniyi hurts Arsenal again
Credit: Icon Sport

It was a positive weekend in Europe for Super Eagles duo Leon Balogun and Victor Boniface while Taiwo Awoniyi's heroics were not enough for his side.

Ahead of the 2023 Africa Cup of Nations that will take place in January 2024 in Ivory Coast, one question that is being asked is, “Can Victor Boniface be Victor Osimhen's strike partner for the Super Eagles?”

The striker/centre forward pool that the Nigeria national football team handlers have to choose from is wide and deep. Outside the established names like Osimhen, Kelechi Iheanacho and Taiwo Awoniyi, there are players like Boniface and Gift Orban who are making Nigerians proud in various leagues abroad.

Can Boniface get into the Super Eagles team ahead of these names for the tournament? This article will also take a look at two other Nigerian stars in Leon Balogun and Taiwo Awoniyi, who also featured for their club sides over the weekend.

Boniface catches eye with solid performance in first official game for Bayer 04 Leverkusen

After an impressive season at Union Saint-Gilloise, German Bundesliga side Bayer 04 Leverkusen signed Victor Boniface in a deal that cost €20 million.

The Belgian side made a profit of €18 million on the 22-year-old, who had only spent two seasons at the club before moving on.

There was a worry about how he would adapt to a much bigger league but many believed that he could hold his own, especially after his performances during the 2022/23 UEFA Europa League.

Boniface slotted in well with his new teammates under their manager, former Real Madrid, Bayern Munich and Liverpool midfielder Xabi Alonso. He gave a good account of himself in pre-season. Now, he has opened his official account for the club, which has excited lots of Nigerian fans and stakeholders in the Nigeria football news media.

Boniface, who only joined the club two weeks ago and scored against West Ham United in pre-season, opened his official account for the club in the German Cup.

Die Werkself scored eight goals past Teutonia Ottensen to progress to the second round of the German Cup. Boniface was among the eight goals scored, which was a good way to cap his fine performance in the game.

The Super Handlers will be watching very closely ahead of their September round of fixtures in the AFCON qualifiers 2023.

In the meantime, Boniface will be heading up for his German Bundesliga debut on 19 August against German Supercup winners and German Cup defending champions Red Bull Leipzig.

Can Boniface and Osimhen lead Super Eagles at AFCON 2023?

Victor Boniface is yet to make his national team debut.

It is understood, however, that he is on the provisional list of close to 50 players that the Super Eagles technical team are observing. It is from this list that the coaches have to decide which players to reach out to when an international break is close by.

Napoli man Victor Osimhen is first on the list and a shoo-in for every squad. His usual strike partner is Leicester City man Iheanacho. Nottingham Forest striker Awoniyi is hovering around the team but is now looking like a clear favourite to get in alongside Osimhen and Iheanacho.

There are others like Terem Moffi, who have enjoyed a run in the team on a number of occasions alongside Osimhen.

Boniface is certain to get his chance in the team but the 22-year-old may have to wait a little longer for his opportunity.

Leon Balogun solid as Rangers claim dominant win

Having lost their first league game of the season in the absence of Balogun, the Nigerian played a key role as Rangers sealed a convincing 4-0 victory over Livingston to mark their first win of the campaign.

Balogun re-signed for Rangers last month and put in a commanding display as he helped his side to a clean-sheet as well. Fellow Nigerian Cyriel Dessers was also on the pitch but was kept quiet in front of goal.

Taiwo Awoniyi heroics not enough against Arsenal

Just like Victor Boniface, Taiwo Awoniyi also got off the mark for the season in his side's 2-1 defeat at Arsenal.

The Super Eagles forward could only start from the bench, given that he just recovered from an ankle injury. He wasted no time in making his present felt as he showed great instinct to connect with fellow substitute Anthony Elanga to score his first of the campaign and also make it two in two against the Gunners.

Awoniyi's goal was not enough to seal a comeback but he did make history in the process, becoming only the second Nottingham Forest player in the club's history to score in five straight Premier League appearances after Stan Collymore who set the record last between March/April, 1995.

Asides a goal, he also added one to his family as he welcomed a new born baby with his partner.

Having scored 10 goals in his debut Premier League campaign, he is well on course to better that tally this term.

 

This article was most recently revised and updated 8 months ago

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