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Sports News of Thursday, 30 December 2021


Union Berlin sad over Awoniyi’s absence during AFCON

Taiwo Awoniyi Taiwo Awoniyi

Union Berlin Football Director, Oliver Ruhnert, is displeased that Taiwo Awoniyi will not be available for the Iron Ones during the start of the second half of the season.

Awoniyi is Union Berlin’s leading goal scorer, with the 24-year-old netting 14 goals and adding three assists in 27 appearances across all competitions.

Signed permanently from Liverpool for a club-record €6.5 million in July, Awoniyi’s market valuation hit a career-high €15 million on December 22 following his excellent performances.

And it was no surprise to see the former FC Mainz loanee included in Nigeria’s 28-man roster to feature at the 33rd edition of the Africa Cup of Nations in Cameroon. The tournament runs from January 9 to February 6.

Awoniyi could potentially miss four Bundesliga games, and the DFB Pokal clash against bitter city rivals Hertha Berlin at the Olympiastadion Berlin on January 19.

Director Ruhnert admits Union knew there was the possibility that the striker could participate at the Afcon when signing him in the summer.

But the 50-year-old expresses Union’s displeasure at having to do without their star striker for almost a month.

“When we sign a player like Taiwo Awoniyi, you have to respect the fact that there is an Africa Cup in January,” Ruhnert said, as per Kicker.

“With his performances, he got the Nigerian national team noticed and nominated him. That’s, for now, a positive effect.

“Nonetheless, we miss him, that annoys us, that is not good for us, because we will miss him in January.”

Awoniyi has just one cap for the Super Eagles, earned on his debut in October.

The former youth international will, however, hope to make a significant contribution as the national team hunt for a fourth continental crown at Cameroon 2021.