At the weekend, after a long-awaited return from injury, Italian-Nigerian midfielder Michael Folorunsho proved to be the missing piece in Bari’s puzzle as the club shot down Benevento 2-0 to continue their charge towards Serie A promotion.
Folorunsho was kept off the starting lineup by manager Michele Mignani. Still, the excitement and anticipation were palpable as over 20,000 spectators at the Stadio Comunale San Nicola in Bari eagerly awaited the 25-year-old’s return to the pitch.
Bari had been eagerly anticipating the return of their key midfielder for more than two months, and their fans were overjoyed to see him make his comeback in the 66th minute of their match against Benevento.
Bari was already in the lead, thanks to Mirco Antenucci’s penalty. But the advantage was slim, and the visitors were only a lucky goal away from snatching a draw.
Still, the home fans knew Folo’s entry could give the team the boost they needed to secure the win.
And as soon as Folorunso stepped onto the pitch, he wasted no time getting back into the swing of things. He quickly made his presence felt with his trademark acceleration and shot, almost leading to a goal.
And in the 71st minute, Folo proved why he was such an essential player for Bari when he scored a deflected free-kick, doubling the home side’s lead and sealing the victory.
Folo’s return is particularly significant for Bari, as he is a true multitasker, capable of playing both as a midfielder and in the advanced department.
In 23 appearances this season, he had already scored seven goals in the league, not counting the goal he scored in the Coppa Italia. The Napoli-owned ace has more goals than all of Bari’s other midfielders and defenders put together, and only strikers Walid Cheddira (15) and Mirco Antenucci (8) have scored more.
Folo’s return was a welcome sight for the fans and the team, as he had been sorely missed during his absence.
His desire to play was evident in his performance, and the fans couldn’t help but cheer as he celebrated his goal.
The win over Benevento sends Bari to third with only six points between them and Genoa in second place, the last automatic promotion spot.
There are seven more games to play in the regular season, translating to 21 points to fight for.
Bari will be confident they can beat their rivals with an extra weapon in Folorunsho in their armoury, even as the race for Serie A promotion heats up.
One thing is for sure – with Folo back in the squad, Bari’s chances of promotion have gotten even better.