Ahead of the FIFA World Cup Qatar 2022 double qualifying matches against the Central African Republic, (CAR) Super Eagles coach, Gernot Rohr, has called up 23 players.
In the absence of Super Eagles star midfielder, should Gernot Rohr rely on Innocent Bonke in the match against CAR?
Will Innocent Bonke be a worthy replacement as the midfielder for the Super Eagles?
One of which is Swedish Malmo FF’s defensive midfielder Innocent Bonke who returns to the squad.
Bonke is a 25 years old who made his first Super Eagles appearance against Cape Verde in the second round of the Qatar 2022 African qualifier at the Stadium Aderito Sena.
He displayed a decent performance as Nigeria claimed their second victory in the World Cup qualifying series with a 2-1 win.
Before the game, about seven UK-based Super Eagles players were forced out from the tie against the Blue Sharks.
This was due to restrictions imposed by the United Kingdom government, which states that individuals who travel to COVID-19 ‘red zone’ must be quarantined for 10 days upon return.
Rohr, who had little or no option at that time, fielded Bonke alongside Kingsley Micheal as replacements for Wilfred Ndidi and Joe Aribo respectively with Ahmed Musa playing in an unusual midfield position.
Speaking to the media after the 2-1 win in Mindelo, Rohr showered praise on Bonke and Micheal for their brilliant performance. He said;
“At the beginning of the match, of course, they missed a little bit because it was the first time and perhaps also the last time they’ll play together like this, but they did very well like professionals.
“Both Michael and Bonke did well though it was their first game after we lost all our midfielders from the first game.
“We already had them in our plans. Bonke has been doing well with Malmo in Sweden and they qualified for the Champions League and, so he’d been on our scouting list for some time.“
Leicester City star player, Ndidi and Watford midfielder Oghenekaro Etebo, have been ruled out of the doubleheader due to injuries.
Rohr once again decided to hand another invitation to Bonke as a reward for a worthy display in his first match against Cape Verde last month.
Nigeria will face the Wild Beasts in Matchday three and four of the 2022 World Cup qualifiers coming up at the Teslim Balogun Stadium, Lagos on Thursday, October 7, 2021, while the return leg will be in Douala, Cameroon (presently the ‘home’ of Central African Republic) on Sunday, October 10, 2021.
With this call-up, Bonke will have another chance to prove himself once again to millions of Nigerians and Rohr, the Franco-German tactician that he is a player who can perfectly replace Ndidi, in the Super Eagles team set-up. That is if he gives a commanding display in the two fixtures.
Bonke has made 15 appearances this season for Malmo FC both in the Swedish top league and in the UEFA champions league.
Rohr should be able to rely on the Kaduna-born midfield enforcer in the absence of his trusted defensive midfielder to do the dirty work in the middle of the pack against CAR.
Olawale Quadry is a Mass Communication graduate, creative writer and pundit with eight years of experience and deep knowledge of Nigerian sports. He has previously written for SL10, South Africa, TribaI Football and Opera News. Follow him on Twitter @QualityQuadry
Pulse Contributors is an initiative to highlight diverse journalistic voices. Pulse Contributors do not represent the company Pulse and contribute on their own behalf.
JOIN OUR PULSE COMMUNITY!
Eyewitness? Submit your stories now via social or: