With 10 players missing from the Super Eagles squad for the two 2022 FIFA World Cup qualifiers in this international window, coach Gernot Rohr handed debuts to two midfielders Innocent Bonke and Kingsley Michael, in Nigeria’s 2-1 win over Cape Verde on Tuesday, September 7, 2021.
Nigerian midfielders Innocent Bonke and Kingsley Michael make winning debuts for the Super Eagles
Bonke and Michael made their debuts for the Super Eagles.
Rohr was without his key men as his United Kingdom-based players could not travel to Cape Verde due to restrictions from COVID-19 protocols.
That left a vacuum in midfield filled by two debutants Bonke and Michael, who played all 90 minutes of the game.
After a slow start, both players who paired in midfield got more into the game later on.
It was a winning debut at the end for both, as Nigeria came out 2-1 winners over Cape Verde.
Rohr was impressed with the players, stating that they will add more competition to the squad.
“The new players have brought in new competition to the first team. We have had Bonke in our scouting team; they did well, we missed harmony in the early moment, but they did a good job,” Rohr said after the game.
“It was a difficult game for us; we needed to build a new team, it wasn’t easy, but in Nigeria, we have abundant talents.”
Born and raised in Kaduna, Bonke started his football in that city, where he played for a couple of amateur clubs, Kaduna Academy and Moderate Stars.
He grew up with current Super Eagles teammate Moses Simon in Kaduna.
He later moved to Lagos to play for Bujoc FC, an academy in the city and later secured a foreign contract to play for Lillestrom in Norway.
He played there for three years before he joined Malmo of Sweden, where he currently plays.
Like Bonke, Michael also started his journey with an amateur club in Nigeria before heading to Europe.
He broke out at the 2015 FIFA U17 World Cup, where he played a slew of games for the Golden Eaglets.
He scored a goal in a 3-0 win over Brazil as the Golden Eaglets went on to win the title.
After that tournament, he joined Bologna’s youth team and played for a host of clubs while coming through the ranks.
He now plays with Bologna’s senior team in the Serie A.