How much will Nigeria miss Victor Boniface at AFCON 2024?

After the withdrawal of Wilfred Ndidi from the Nigeria squad with a muscle injury, the breaking news that Victor Boniface will also miss the African Cup of Nations 2024 tournament came as a real blow to the Super Eagles. Bayer 04 Leverkusen striker Boniface suffered a groin injury while training with the national team in Abu Dhabi and now requires an operation. Nigeria qualified comfortably for the upcoming tournament, but how badly will Nigeria miss Boniface’s presence up front?

Victor to still lead the line

Although one Victor will be missing for Nigeria, another will still be looking to fire the Super Eagles to glory. Many Nigerians will be looking to Napoli’s Victor Osimhen to score the goals in Côte d’Ivoire as the nation bids for its first AFCON title since 2013. The inclusion of the “other Victor” will cushion the blow felt by Boniface’s absence and also offers a physical presence up front for Nigeria. Although Napoli have struggled this season, Osimhen has scored 7 goals in 13 appearances for the club. Alongside top NPFL predictions, Osimhen will be one of the heavy favourites to finish the tournament as top scorer. While fans were hoping to see the two Victors working in tandem, the likes of Samuel Chukwueze, Ademola Lookman and Kelechi Iheanacho will be striving to fill the void left by Boniface’s injury.

The absence of an all-round, in-form player

Not only has Boniface proved clinical in front of goal for a Bayer 04 Leverkusen team that currently top the Bundesliga, the 23-year-old has also contributed assists to go with his goals. In 16 Bundesliga appearances this season, Boniface has scored 10 goals, and set up teammates 7 times. In 1286 minutes of Bundesliga football played up until the German winter break, Boniface was involved in a goal every 76 minutes of play and has also displayed his incredible fitness in featuring in every Bundesliga match this season so far.Nigeria manager, José Peseiro, will be looking to maximise the attacking talent in the squad to ensure Boniface’s all-round contribution is not missed.

The loss of Victor Boniface will certainly be a blow to Nigeria’s ambitions of adding a fourth AFCON trophy to their collection, but there is plenty of belief that the rest of the attacking ensemble can make their own individual contributions. Victor Osimhen will be expected to provide the main goalscoring threat, but if Nigeria are to advance all the way to the final, the whole squad will be needed.