Why Boniface Was Not On Pitch Against South Africa


Nigeria’s head coach, Finidi George, elucidated his rationale for omitting Victor Boniface from Friday night’s clash against South Africa. Despite considering Boniface for a substitute role, Finidi cited on-field circumstances that necessitated a change in plans.

"We contemplated his introduction, but when Ajayi expressed his inability to continue, we had to reconsider," Finidi acknowledged during a post-match interview.

The coach highlighted a tactical adjustment, resulting in Boniface being sidelined for the match. However, Finidi assured supporters that Boniface may still feature in future opportunities.

"We have another game ahead, and if he performs well, he will be included," he affirmed.

Addressing critiques and external demands on player selections, Finidi stressed the primacy of on-field performance over external influences.

"It's about what you contribute on the field. While everyone has their preferred players, performance is paramount. Let us execute our duties; we know who is fit," Finidi asserted.

In the match, Nigeria and South Africa played to a 1-1 draw in the third round of the 2026 World Cup qualifier. Themba Zwane of South Africa netted the opener in the 29th minute at the Godswill Akpabio International Stadium, Uyo, Akwa Ibom State. Nigeria’s Fisayo Dele-Bashiru equalized with a low shot in the 46th minute.

However, the match concluded with both teams level. With three draws in three matches, Nigeria currently sits fifth in a six-team table in the 10-match competition.

The group winners secure direct qualification for the 2026 World Cup in Canada, Mexico, and the United States, while the four highest-ranked runners-up proceed to playoffs. The winners of the playoffs advance to an intercontinental tournament featuring six nations vying for two additional spots.

This game marked Finidi’s debut as Super Eagles coach, with the team set to face third-placed Benin in Abidjan on June 10.

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