The former Liverpool midfielder faces a tricky January as the German club’s Bundesliga ambitions could take a hit
Bayer Leverkusen manager Xabi Alonso has chosen to remain optimistic despite facing the prospect of losing Nigeria’s Victor Boniface and four other African stars next month, Soccernet.ng reports.
Alonso has done a near-impossible job in Leverkusen, turning a team hovering around the relegation zone last year into the best team in the Bundesliga.
Bayer Leverkusen have won 20 of their 23 games in all competitions this term, sitting top of the Bundesliga and finishing their UEFA Europa League group stage campaign with a perfect winning record.
Many of these good works could be undone in January, though, as five key Bayer Leverkusen players stand the chance of getting called up by their respective national teams for the 2023 Africa Cup of Nations.
Top striker and four-time Rookie of the Month winner Victor Boniface tops the list of Bayer’s AFCON-bound stars that could also include compatriot Nathan Tella, Burkina Faso’s Edmond Tapsoba, Ivory Coast’s Amine Adli, and Morocco’s Odilon Kossounou.
With the AFCON running from January 13th to February 11th, some of these players could miss Bayer Leverkusen’s league games against Leipzig and Bayern Munich, as well as the Cup tie against high-flying Stuttgart.
However, Alonso has refused to hide being excuses as he insists he has a robust squad with players that can step up in the absence of others.
This fact was made clear after a second-string Bayer Leverkusen side forced a 5-1 defeat down the throat of Norwegian club Molde in their final Europa League group clash on Thursday.
And after his men’s impressive victory, Alonso insists he has no reason to shed tears for a situation he knew could surface from the start of the season.
“That’s the game calendar,” the former Real Madrid star said, per Kicker.
“We are losing some players, but we have seen that all players can play. We will decide so that we have a competitive team.
“I’m not crying. I’m not a victim. We have enough players.”
Earlier, Bayer Leverkusen sporting director Simon Rolfes expressed his conviction that Bayer Leverkusen will remain competitive even when Boniface and others leave for Africa’s biggest football fiesta.
“We have always said that we have many very good players. The team enjoys playing football,” said Rolfes.
“Let’s see who is nominated in the end for the African Cup of Nations and for how long they will be absent. But those who are there have a very, very good level.”
After an impressive start to life in Germany, Boniface looks set to make his AFCON debut in Ivory Coast next month.
The former Union Saint-Gilloise striker is one of the forwards head coach Jose Peseiro will count on as Super Eagles target a fourth-ever continental title.