It is no longer news that Austin Eguavoen, the Super Eagles head coach has invited Innocent Bonke, the Lorient midfielder as a replacement for the injured Wilfred Ndidi ahead of Nigeria’s World Cup play-off against Ghana.
Nigeria is billed to face the Black Stars of Ghana in a two-legged World Cup play-off cracker on March 25 and 29. With the first leg match coming in Ghana on March 25. Nigerians had hoped on having Wilfred Ndidi, their midfield maestro in the thick of Nigeria’s encounter with their arch-rival Ghana.
However, Ndidi sustained a medial ligament injury during Leicester City’s Europa Conference League match against Rennes on Thursday, with Brendan Rodgers, the Foxes manager announcing after the game that the ever-reliable midfielder “will be out of action for a few weeks.”
Who is Innocent Bonke?
Bonke Innocent is a 26-year Kaduna-born Nigerian professional footballer who plays for Lorient Football Club of France as a midfielder. He has been invited to the Super Eagles in place of Ndidi to marshal the midfield of the Super Eagles in the epic encounter.
French Ligue 1 club FC Lorient signed Bonke for free from Swedish side Malmo FF. The 26-year-old Nigeria international midfielder was unveiled by Lorient in January 2022 after agreeing to pen a three-and-a-half-year contract.
Christophe Le Roux, the sporting director of Lorient FC was delighted to have Bonke in his team when he stated why the club signed him; “We are happy to see Bonke joining us during the month of January. He is a player that we have been following for some time now with the recruitment cell.
“He has a large volume of play in midfield and will densify our squad in this sector. He will be complementary with our other midfielders. He is a player who defends while advancing and is very dynamic in recovering the ball.
“His experience at a very high level, in particular through his participation in more than 10 European matches, will be a real contribution to our group.”
Christophe Pelissier, the coach of Lorient in his speech on Bonke said; “Bonke will bring us a certain defensive balance, especially in midfield, with an athletic dominance.
“He can evolve either as a sentry, in a midfielder with three, or in a midfielder with two defensive midfielders. He is a very applied player in these functions who has good technique in the game under pressure. His maturity, both mentally and technically, will be an asset to our squad.”
The former Malmö FF defensive midfielder, who made his debut for Nigeria on September 7, 2021, in the 2-1 World Cup qualifier against Cape Verde away, wears jersey number eight for Lorient FC.
Lorient has most notably served as a springboard club for several present-day internationals such as Laurent Koscielny, André-Pierre Gignac, Michaël Ciani, Kevin Gameiro, Karim Ziani, Bakari Koné, Matteo Guendouzi, and Seydou Keita. French international Yoann Gourcuff, the son of Christian Gourcuff, began his career at the club before moving to Derby Breton rivals Rennes.
The 1.8m tall stalwart has played a total of seven games for Lorient without a goal, four yellow cards, and no red cards. His accurate passes per game are at 35.0 (87percent), long ball passes are at 2.3 (80percent), and that has been proven to be his strength, his interceptions per game is at 1.4, while he has tackles per game rate of 2.4.
The last match Bonke played for Malmo FF was against Juventus in the UEFA Champions League, an away match which ended 1-0 in favour of the ‘Old Ladies’ of Turin. Bonke received a 5.91 Infogol rating in that game.