The Victors: Two strikers, different stories
Not only do they ply their trades in two different countries, Nigerian strikers Victor Boniface and Victor Osimhen are living in two separate worlds as far as their football performances are concerned at the moment, PUNCH Sports Extrareports.
While it is still early days into the 2023/24 season, it is appropriate to say that Boniface is the rave of the moment while his namesake is struggling to replicate his last season’s performance.
On matchday 5 of the new campaign, Boniface was the hero as Bayer Leverkusen trounced Bundesliga new boys Heidenheim 4-1. The 22-year-old scored two goals, including a penalty, and grabbed another assist.
His impressive performance earned him a nomination for the Bundesliga Team of The Week, his third in just five weeks.
For Osimhen, the reverse was the case as the Super Eagles striker missed the penalty that denied Napoli a chance to win all three points against Bologna on Sunday.
Often times new signings struggle and take their time to adjust to their new environments but the Akure-born Boniface has hit the ground running since making the move from Royale Union Saint-Gilloise to Bayer Leverkusen in the summer.
In his seven games across all competitions, Boniface has scored eight goals plus three assists.
His impressive performance has seen him claim the Best Player in the Bundesliga for August. The striker also won the Rookie of The Month award.
In Italy, Osimhen currently sits second on the top scorers’ charts, just one goal behind Olivier Giroud, who has four goals, but such is the importance of the Nigerian, whose three-game barren run in front of goal has raised the alarm.
In six games played so far – five league matches and one Champions League – Osimhen has scored three goals, a figure not bad for an average striker but the Nigerian is way beyond an average striker.
Also indicating that the two strikers are currently living in different worlds at the moment, while Boniface continues to draw praises from teammates and managers, Osimhen on his part was condemned for his altercation on the touchline with Napoli boss Rudi Garcia after he was taken off on Sunday.
“These become more noticeable when things go wrong. In these moments we do not need such attitudes, we must be united and focused on the goal. We’ll talk to the team and the coach to solve it,” Napoli captain, Giovanni Di Lorenzo, said of the Nigerian’s attitude.
By all standards, Osimhen is a player who when in form can wreak havoc, reason why he was one of the most sought-after strikers during the last summer transfer window but at the moment the Napoli hitman is a shadow of himself.
Osimhen was applauded for his role in Napoli’s Scudetto win last season after three decades of waiting; it may not come as a big surprise that the Parthenopeans are currently languishing mid-table with the player also not at his best.
For Boniface and Leverkusen, they are flying high as they occupy the second position with 13 points, the same number of points with league leaders, Bayern Munich.
After match-day 4, Boniface set a record as the player with the most shots in his first four Bundesliga games since the detailed stats collection started in the 2004/05 season but the 22-year-old refused to rest on his laurel and on Sunday, he became just the third player in the history of the league to score two or more goals in three of his first five games, a feat first achieved in 1976 by Jan Mattsson, who played for Fortuna Düsseldorf and equalled by Erling Haaland in 2020 during his time at Borussia Dortmund.
Osimhen is a player with qualities and while his primary focus will be to turn the tide around in Italy and get back on the scoresheet, Boniface on the other hand will hope to continue to enjoy his success story in Germany.(punch)