Super Eagles striker Boniface admits missing 2023 AFCON was one of the painful moments of his career

Published: April 26, 2024
Super Eagles striker Boniface admits missing 2023 AFCON was one of the painful moments of his career

 Victor Boniface has admitted that missing the 2023 Africa Cup of Nations was one of the most painful moments of his career. 

The Bayer Leverkusen striker was initially named in Nigeria's final squad for the tournament in Ivory Coast but had to withdraw from the roster after suffering an adductor injury to his groin during Nigeria's pre-Africa Cup of Nations training camp in Abu Dhabi, United Arab Emirates.

Boniface was supposed to play an important role for the Super Eagles at the 2023 AFCON and Jose Peseiro's plan was to use a system that would have seen the 23-year-old partner Victor Osimhen in a two-man attack.

He was enjoying a breakout season at Bayer Leverkusen before suffering the injury that would sideline him for around three months, having registered 24 goal involvements (16 goals, 8 assists) in 23 all-competition appearances.

With Boniface unavailable for selection, former Nigeria boss Peseiro had to tweak his formation from a 4-4-2 to a 3-4-3 system, leading to a change in their playing style, with the Super Eagles adopting a more defensive approach. 

"It was difficult, one of the most painful moments of my career – not only the injury itself, but of course also my absence from the Africa Cup of Nations and some important Bundesliga games," Boniface told AFP via Transfermarkt. 

"But that's football, you have ups, you have downs. It's about your attitude, your mindset. You need the right people around you in moments like this. I had the support of the club – that was important."

Boniface has been unfortunate with injuries before major international tournaments. 

In 2019, he had to withdraw from Nigeria's squad to the U20 AFCON after sustaining a knee injury just before the start of the tournament in Niger and few months later, the former Bodo/Glimt forward damaged his cruciate ligament in a pre-season friendly against SK Brann, which saw him miss the World Cup in Poland. 

Ifeanyi Emmanuel 


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