‘Osimhen can’t create, Boniface can’ – Super Eagles assistant compares strike duo

Assistant coach of the Super Eagles Benjamin James has had his say on the playing styles of Victor Osimhen and Victor Boniface. James was recently confirmed as one of the men to assist Finidi George following the latter’s appointment as substantive head coach of the Super Eagles.

James’ duty, as part of the backroom staff, is to complement George’s work in the dugout and help the 53-year-old return Nigeria to its glory days. With the country, however, currently blessed with an abundance of strikers, the competition for places is as tight as ever.

Boniface and Osimhen are two of the forwards flying the flag of Nigeria high, and both are currently among the best strikers in Europe. Osimhen enjoyed his most prolific campaign last season, when he scored over 30 goals as Napoli clinched the Serie A title.

The 25-year-old has been slowed down a bit this season due to injuries, but he has still managed 17 goals in all competitions.

On the other hand, Boniface has taken the Bundesliga by storm since joining the club from Belgian side Union SG last year. Despite missing three months of the season due to injury, he has impressively contributed 20 goals and 10 assists and was voted Bundesliga Rookie of the Year earlier this week.

Benjamin James compares Osimhen’s style of play to Boniface’s

The impressive form of Osimhen and Boniface has led to calls for Osimhen and Boniface to start together for the Super Eagles. While that is a decision that only Finidi George can make, his assistant James has rated the strengths and weaknesses of both players.

Dissecting Osimhen’s style of play, James said the Napoli forward is a completely different player as compared to Boniface. He noted that while Osimhen is a fantastic finisher, he is not creative in the attacking third.

On Boniface, James praised the Leverkusen striker’s deadliness when presented with one-on-one chances and said, unlike Osimhen, the 23-year-old  can both score and create chances for his teammates when the need be.

“Players have different characters. They have their different style of play. I would use Victor Osimhen and Victor Boniface as an example. Osimhen is not the creative type but he is a finisher. Boniface can create and finish because he is good in one-on-one situations,” the Super Eagles assistant coach said, as quoted by The Nation Online.

Benjamin James privileged to work with Finidi George as Super Eagles assistant

James also expressed his elation at being picked by George as one of his assistants. The Nigeria head coach’s backroom staff includes Daniel Amokachi (assistant), Olatunji Baruwa (goalkeeper’s trainer), Chima Onyeike (fitness trainer) and Mehmet Ozturk (analyst).

Benjamin James ventured into management immediately after hanging his boots, and is currently attached to German side Hoffenheim as a youth team coach. The former Shooting Stars and Catania defender, however, sees the Super Eagles’ assistant job as a big step for him. 

The 53-year-old further promised to work hand-in-hand with George to ensure that the Super Eagles hit the heights that are expected, as they prepare to take on South Africa and Benin in the 2026 FIFA World Cup qualifiers.

“I feel good and privileged to serve my motherland. Finidi giving me the chance to be his assistant I think it is good and we are all going to work together to ensure the Super Eagles progress,” James said.

Benjamin James reveals how he ended up in football 

Meanwhile, James also opened up on how he ended up in football. The former Catania centre-back started his professional career at Nigeria Premier Football League (NPFL) side Shooting Stars and went on to play for clubs in Germany and Italy.

According to him, his father wasn’t enthused about his desire to play football, insisting he was scouted by Segun Odegbami after taking matters into his own hands by travelling to Ibadan to partake in a trial with Shooting Stars.

“I joined Shooting Stars around 1985 and 1986. My father was not supportive. He was not keen on football and didn’t want us to play. He wanted us to go to school and my mother would buy boots for us and hide them.”

“I took the bold decision to travel to Ibadan alone. Taking a tipper from Toll Gate to Ibadan. On getting to Shooting Stars, I was taking IICC. IICC then was a very big club and had its own clubhouse and had an array of superstars then, the likes of Felix Owolabi, Rashidi Yekini, Muda Lawal and Clement Temile.

“When I trained the next day, (Chief) Segun Odegbami was the team manager then and after training, he said to me ‘Ben you are not going back,’ that was how my football career started.”

James, George, and the entire Super Eagles technical team have been tasked with qualifying Nigeria for the next World Cup. And while George has been handed a two-year contract, the only way to repay the Nigeria Football Federation’s faith in him is to lead the team to victory over South Africa and Benin. 

‘Osimhen can’t create, Boniface can’ – Super Eagles assistant compares strike duo
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.