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Union Berlin coach explains why he benched Taiwo Awoniyi against Mainz

12:47 GMT+4 01/03/2022
Taiwo Awoniyi of Union Berlin.
The 24-year-old Super Eagle eventually came off the bench to score for the Iron Ones in their German top-flight fixture over the weekend

Union Berlin coach Urs Fischer has come out to explain why he started forward Taiwo Awoniyi on the bench in the team’s 3-1 Bundesliga victory against Mainz on Saturday.

The 24-year-old, who was part of the Nigeria squad that took part in the 33rd edition of the Africa Cup of Nations in Cameroon but failed to get past the Round of 16, watched from the bench as his side took the lead courtesy of Genki Haraguchi at An der Alten Forsterei Stadium.

Sheraldo Becker then slotted home the second before Awoniyi was introduced in place of Andreas Voglsammer in the 67th minute. The Super Eagle then needed only 10 minutes to join the scoresheet as he held his nerve to slot home the third.

Though Delano Burgzorg pulled a goal back for Mainz, it was not enough as Union Berlin collected maximum points. Ahead of Union Berlin’s DFB-Pokal quarter-final fixture against St. Pauli on Tuesday, Fischer explained his decision to bench the Nigeria star.

“I wanted to take the pressure off Taiwo a bit. He was at the Africa Cup of Nations and it has gone very well this season,” Fischer said as quoted by ligainsider.de. “He’s had a bit of a dry spell with Union now. Vogi was one of our last goalscorers and I decided for him a bit on instinct.

“We still need Taiwo [against St. Pauli]. He is our top scorer and I’m glad it happened like this: Coming in and scoring against Mainz was important for his self-confidence.”

The former Liverpool player is currently Union Berlin’s top scorer with 15 goals from 31 appearances in all competitions and he has managed 10 goals in the top-flight from 21 matches.

Before his goal against Mainz, Awoniyi had gone for over two months without a goal in all competitions, his last effort coming in the 2-1 league victory against RB Leipzig on December 3, 2021.

After the Cup fixture, Awoniyi and Union Berlin will return to league action with a visit to face Wolfsburg at Volkswagen Arena on Saturday.

Union Berlin are currently sitting seventh on the 18-team table with 37 points from 24 matches. They have won 10 matches, drawn seven and lost seven.