Victor Boniface injury: Super Eagles dealt huge AFCON 2023 blow

The Super Eagles will not be able to call on the services of Victor Boniface for the Africa Cup of Nations (AFCON 2023), which kicks off this weekend.

The Bayer Leverkusen player is sidelined with a groin injury, which he picked up in training. This is a huge blow for Nigeria's national team, who are on a quest for their fourth AFCON title. 

Boniface was ruled out for Nigeria's clash with the Syli National of Guinea on Monday, a match where the Super Eagles lost by two unanswered goals.

The absence of the 23-year-old puts a huge dent in Nigeria's AFCON 2023 chances as he has been in sensational form for Bayer Leverkusen this season. 

To put things into perspective, Leverkusen are currently leading the Bundesliga standings. At the time of writing, they have no losses in 29 matches in all competitions, and have scored 46 times in 16 league matches. 

Interestingly, Boniface was directly involved in 17 of those goals. Not only is he the team's top scorer, the former Bodø/Glimt forward is also Leverkusen's joint assist leader. As a matter of fact, Harry Kane and Serhou Guirassy are the only players with more direct goal involvement than Boniface in Germany's top flight. 

Victor Boniface one of Europe's form players

Additionally, the Super Eagles forward scored four times in the UEFA Europa League, and twice in the DFB Pokal. He's coming off a career-best year, where he bagged 33 goals – fourth-most amongst all African players in 2023.

Moreover, the 23-year-old found himself in a similar situation a few years ago. He picked up an injury just before the U-20 AFCON in 2019, and was ruled out due to an injury.

This will likely come as a huge blow to Boniface, who seemed to be in high spirits ahead of his AFCON debut, even starring in a viral skit. He is yet to find the net for his country after five appearances. 

The Super Eagles have now been plagued by injuries just a couple of weeks before the start of the Nations Cup. Wilfred Ndidi is sidelined for AFCON 2023, while his Leicester City teammate Kelechi Iheanacho is questionable for the tournament.

On that note, Super Eagles coach Jose Peseiro will have to look for other options, and Nice's Terem Moffi is expected to be Boniface's replacement. 

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Kelechi Udoka

Kelechi is an avid Enyimba fan who enjoys writing about the beautiful game. He has written thousands of articles for a few publications over the years.