Boniface and Tella complete the double as Leverkusen win German Cup

Nigeria internationals Victor Boniface and Nathan Tella have won the DFB Pokal after Bayer Leverkusen defeated FC Kaiserslautern in the final of the competition on Saturday evening. Xabi Alonso’s side recovered from losing the UEFA Europa League final a few days ago to beat the 2. Bundesliga side as they completed a domestic double.

Leverkusen went into the German Cup final on the back of a disappointing defeat at the hands of Atalanta in the Europa League final on Wednesday. Die Werkself had a rare off day against the Italians, who romped to a 3-0 victory following a sensational hat-trick by Ademola Lookman.

The defeat to Atalanta ended Leverkusen’s 51-game unbeaten run while denying them the chance of becoming the first European side to win the treble without tasting defeat in all competitions. However, Alonso and his side put the disappointment of losing the Europa League final behind them to record an important victory over Kaiserslautern in the German Cup final.

A first-half strike from Granit Xhaka was the difference between the two teams. The Swiss midfielder put Leverkusen in front in the 17th minute with a special goal after hitting the ball from 35 yards to beat goalkeeper Julian Krahl. Die Werkself were, however, reduced to 10 men late in the first half when Odilon Kossounou was sent off after receiving two yellow cards.

However, the numerical disadvantage didn’t seem to affect the game much, with Leverkusen continuing to dominate possession after the half-time break. Alonso’s side had four shots on target, as compared to Kaiserslautern’s two, but could not add to their tally as they settled for a 1-0 win that ensured they were crowned DFB Pokal champions. 

Boniface and Tella's Leverkusen win the double after missing out on treble 

Leverkusen’s triumph in the German Cup means Boniface and Tella have completed the double. The Nigerian duo have both played key roles for the club this season and have been instrumental to the successes chalked by Alonso’s side.

Boniface and Tella were both left on the bench for Wednesday’s Europa League final against Atalanta, with the former summoned at the start of the second half when the team was already down by two goals while the latter replaced Jeremie Frimpong for the final nine minutes.

Against Kaiserslautern in the DFB Pokal final, Alonso once again opted to leave Boniface and Tella out of his starting XI. The Spaniard chose Patrik Schick over Boniface as his starting striker and also gave Jonas Hofmann the nod ahead of Tella to play on the right side of the front three.

Boniface remained sat on the bench for the entirety of the game but Tella came on in the 90th minute to help Leverkusen protect their lead and see out the game. Having been crowned Bundesliga champions just a few weeks ago, the Nigerian pair have now added the German Cup to complete the double after missing out on the treble following Die Werkself's disappointing loss to Atalanta in the Europa League final three days ago.

Boniface and Tella turn attention to 2026 World Cup qualifiers after successful season 

Meanwhile, after enjoying a successful campaign at the club level, Boniface and Tella will now turn their attention towards the upcoming 2026 FIFA World Cup qualifiers, where Nigeria have tough tests against South Africa and Benin in the next two weeks.

The Leverkusen stars have both been included in Finidi George’s 23-man squad for upcoming assignments and will be arriving in camp as two of the Super Eagles’ best performers in Europe. Boniface missed three months of the season after suffering a groin injury that also caused him to miss the Africa Cup of Nations (AFCON 2024) in Ivory Coast, but still boasts impressive numbers in front of goal after contributing 21 goals and 10 assists this term.

Tella also had a turbulent start to the campaign and struggled to get into the Leverkusen team at the beginning of the season but turned things around as the season progressed. The 24-year-old worked his way to become one of Alonso’s most reliable players, often switching between the wing-back and the right-wing positions due to his versatility. Tella ends the season with 42 appearances under his belt along with seven goals and six assists.

As to whether Boniface and Tella will command starting positions for Nigeria is a decision George would have to make, especially with the Super Eagles spoilt for options in attack. Victor Osimhen, Terem Moffi, Kelechi Iheanacho, Samuel Chukwueze and Lookman are all options available for George to pick from. Osimhen’s fitness issues, however, make Boniface a viable option to start in the qualifying matches and even if the Napoli forward proves his fitness, they could be paired in a front two, with George previously hinting at playing both strikers together. 

Tella also looks likely to command a starting spot. Lookman’s rich vein of form means he has the left wing position on lock, but the right flank remains up for grabs, especially with Moses Simon currently injured and Chukwueze also badly out of form.

Nigeria will host South Africa in Oyo on 7 June and will follow it up with a clash against Benin on the road as they aim to revive their World Cup qualification hopes after garnering just two points from two matches so far in their qualifying group. 

Boniface and Tella complete the double as Leverkusen win German Cup
Emmanuel Ayamga

Emmanuel Ayamga is an Asante Kotoko fan and a passionate sports journalist with a little over five years of experience writing about African football.

His articles and features have been published in renowned news media like The Guardian, DW, Al Jazeera and Sportskeeda. His bylines can also be found in the UK journals World Soccer Magazine and These Football Times.