Football News

Victor Boniface: Nigeria’s national team may have yet another ‘Haaland rival’

By James Amey

Published: 14:32, 8 September 2023

Nigeria have some serious firepower at their disposal. 

The Super Eagles have had some legendary strikers in their time from Kanu, who won the Champions League with Ajax, to Obafemi Martins, who famously scored the winning goal in the 2011 League Cup final against Arsenal. But their latest crop of striking talents may just be the best yet.

In 2022/23, Victor Osimhen became the first African player to win the Serie A Golden Boot in the 125-year history of the competition as he fired Napoli to their first league title in 33 years. He scored 26 goals in 32 leagues games, finishing behind Erling Haaland, Harry Kane and Kylian Mbappé in the European Golden Shoe standings. The 24-year-old also broke Samuel Eto’o’s record (21) for the most goals ever scored by an African player in an Italian top flight campaign. But he’s not the only Super Eagle soaring.

Wonderkid Gift Orban, who was heavily linked with a move to the Premier League in the summer, turned heads with the fastest hat-trick in UEFA competition history, scoring 26 goals in 29 games in his Genk career so far. Taiwo Awoniyi scored in his final four games of 2022/23 and continued the streak in his first three in 2023/24. The Nigerian joined Emmanuel Adebayor and Mohamed Salah as the only African players to score in seven consecutive games. In the eighth game, Awoniyi turned provider for Anthony Elanga’s winner at Stamford Bridge.

This summer, Bayer Leverkusen signed Victor Boniface from Union Saint-Giloise for an initial €20m and it already looks like a bargain. He finished as joint-top scorer alongside Marcus Rashford during the 2022/23 Europa League season and has carried that form into 2023/24. Boniface has scored four goals and provided two assists in his first three Bundesliga games – Paco Alcácer and Haaland are the only players with more goal involvements in their first three appearances in the competition since Opta started collecting such data in 2004/05. Even more impressively, despite starting a week later, Boniface has attempted more shots than any other player in Europe’s top seven leagues heading into the international break. The only player that has also hit 20? Erling Haaland.

That form has earned Boniface his first call-up to the Nigeria squad. The Leverkusen striker has plenty of competition in the form of the aforementioned Osimhen, Awoniyi and Orban, while Kelechi Iheanacho, Samuel Chukwueze, Moses Simon and Ademola Lookman complete the forward line.

The Super Eagles face São Tomé and Príncipe in qualifying for the 2024 AFCON this month and with so much firepower in their squad, expect goals, lots of them.

Nigeria vs São Tomé Preview

Nigeria will be hoping to extend their lead at the top of their AFCON qualifying group when they go head-to-head with São Tomé on Sunday.


Odds correct as of 14:30 on September 08

The Super Eagles currently sit two points clear of Guinea-Bissau in second after winning four of their opening five qualifying matches, including each of the last two. Jose Peseiro’s side are the current top scorers in the group, having found the back of the net 16 times, while opponents São Tomé, have conceded a whopping 20 times in their opening five matches.

With that in mind and the aforementioned goalscoring prowess the Nigerians have in their squad, we are predicting a comfortable home win with the Super Eagles finding the back of the net five times.