Nigeria’s Victor Boniface ruled out of AFCON with ‘mystery injury’

In a significant setback for both Bayer Leverkusen and Nigeria, 23-year-old striker Victor Boniface has been sidelined from the upcoming Africa Cup of Nations hosted in Cote d’Ivoire.

The precise nature of Boniface’s injury remains shrouded in uncertainty, with conflicting reports speculating either a knee or groin ailment.

As the AFCON, set to commence on January 13 and culminate in the final on February 11, looms large, Boniface’s absence from several squad training sessions and a pre-tournament test fixture against Guinea on Monday raises concerns for both club and country.

Despite the lack of official confirmation from the Nigerian Football Association, indications point towards an extended absence for the talented striker throughout the tournament. Boniface himself expressed his best wishes to his teammates in an Instagram post, adorned with a broken-heart emoji, stating, “Good luck guys. Wish you all the best at AFCON.” This heartfelt farewell suggests the player’s realization of a prolonged recovery process.

While the Nigerian FA are yet to make an official announcement, reports suggest that Boniface will return to Germany for rehabilitation. The severity of the injury, coupled with the player’s own sentiments, hints at a potential absence beyond the early days of February, leaving Bayer Leverkusen without a key attacking asset for an extended period.

Nigeria’s head coach, Jose Peseiro, faces the challenge of nominating a replacement for Boniface up until 24 hours before the tournament kick-off on Friday. Among the eligible candidates is Boniface’s Bayer teammate, Nathan Tella, a 24-year-old who earned his first international cap this autumn. Tella, having showcased his goal-scoring prowess with two tallies in club competitions this year, could prove to be a valuable asset for the Super Eagles.

As the football world awaits further developments, the loss of Victor Boniface adds an unexpected twist to Nigeria’s AFCON journey, leaving fans and pundits alike speculating on the potential impact on the team’s performance in the upcoming tournament.