Bayer Leverkusen forward Victor Boniface has been ruled out of the Nigeria squad set to compete in the upcoming Africa Cup of Nations due to an injury. In his absence, Terem Moffi, a striker from Nice boasting six goals in Ligue 1 this season, will step in to join Nigeria’s tournament roster.
Boniface did not feature in the Nigeria squad for their pre-tournament friendly against Guinea in Abu Dhabi on Monday and has since headed back to Germany for necessary treatment.
Read also: Meet the squad: Osimhen and Boniface spearhead Nigeria’s attack in AFCON 2023
Since his summer transfer from Union Saint-Gilloise, the 23-year-old has showcased an impressive performance for Bayer Leverkusen, netting 16 goals in 23 matches across all competitions. Remarkably, he maintained an uninterrupted appearance record for Leverkusen until the German winter break commenced on December 21.
Unfortunately, this setback marks the second injury blow for Nigeria ahead of their opening game against Equatorial Guinea on Sunday. Earlier, Leicester City midfielder Wilfried Ndidi had to be substituted in the squad, with Royal Antwerp’s Alhassan Yusuf taking his place. Ndidi is facing a three-month absence due to a muscle injury sustained in Leicester’s victory over Cardiff at the end of the previous month.
Read also: Discover the top 5 most promising goalkeepers at AFCON 2023
Despite Boniface’s commendable goal-scoring form heading into AFCON, Nigeria boasts a formidable squad with ample attacking prowess. Napoli’s Victor Osimhen stands out as arguably the tournament’s best striker, complemented by the talents of Ademola Lookman from Atalanta, AC Milan’s Samuel Chukwueze, and the experienced captain Ahmed Musa.
Nice striker Moffi, who notched 21 goals last season and has four goals in 12 international caps, adds further depth to Nigeria’s attacking options. Although Leicester forward Kelechi Iheanacho is contending with an injury, he did not withdraw from the squad alongside Ndidi. The hope is that Iheanacho will still be able to join the team, as indicated by Nigeria last week.
Unfortunately, Nottingham Forest striker Taiwo Awoniyi will miss AFCON due to a groin injury that required surgery in November.
In their AFCON group, Nigeria is set to face Equatorial Guinea, tournament hosts Ivory Coast, and Guinea-Bissau. The team’s opening match is against Equatorial Guinea on Sunday, followed by clashes with Ivory Coast on January 18 and Guinea-Bissau four days later.
More about Victor Boniface
Victor Okoh Boniface, born December 23, 2000, is a Nigerian striker for Bayer Leverkusen and the national team. He joined Bodø/Glimt in March 2019 but suffered a ligament injury two weeks later, missing the 2019 season. Despite withdrawing from the 2019 Africa U-20 Cup of Nations due to injury, he debuted for Bodø/Glimt in September 2019.
Read also: Discover the wealthiest Nigerian footballers in 2023
In August 2022, Boniface signed a four-year deal with Union Saint-Gilloise in Belgium. During the 2022–23 Europa League, he scored six goals, reaching the quarter-finals and sharing the top scorer title. On July 22, 2023, he joined Bayer Leverkusen, debuting on August 19 in a 3–2 win over RB Leipzig and scoring his first Bundesliga goals on August 26 in a 3–0 victory against Borussia Mönchengladbach.
Making his senior Nigeria debut on September 10, 2023, Boniface provided an assist. Named in the squad for the 2023 Africa Cup of Nations, he faced a setback on January 8, 2024, with a reported muscle injury, ruling him out of the tournament. Despite the setback, Boniface’s journey reflects resilience and a promising future in football.