Macauley Bonne will fulfil a lifelong dream should he find the back of the net this weekend.
For many, the showpiece FA Cup final between Manchester City and Watford is viewed as the only competitive football on show over the next few days, but Wembley will open its doors once again on Sunday for Non-League Finals day, where Leyton Orient take on AFC Fylde in the FA Trophy, live on talkSPORT 2.
The final not only presents Orient with an excellent opportunity to take a second piece of silverware back to east London this season, having already been crowned National League champions, but also provides the club’s supporters with a fitting day out on the big stage, something which is richly deserved after a somewhat turbulent few years off the pitch.
Prior to Nigel Travis and Kent Teague’s takeover in 2017, Orient were in the High Court just days after being relegated from the Football League for the first time in 112 years, with many supporters questioning whether they’d even have a club left to support under the ownership of Francesco Becchetti.
But the feel good factor has certainly returned to the Breyer Group Stadium, with Orient back in League 2 after a two-year spell away, and Bonne has certainly played his role in the O’s success on the pitch.
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The 23-year-old striker has been Orient’s top scorer in the last two seasons and with 49 goals to his name, the former Colchester United man can’t think of a better way to mark his half century by netting at Wembley.
Looking ahead to this weekend’s FA Trophy final, Bonne told talkSPORT: “I’ve got one more goal to get until I get my 50th goal for Orient. I think that will be the best place to do it. I’m ready.”
“I’m a striker so I want to score goals. If it means scoring an absolute worldie or a little tap in, it doesn’t matter as they all count. Boys dream of scoring at Wembley and for me, the fact that I could go there and leave with a goal, I’d be the happiest boy on the planet.
“To come from winning the Conference and getting promoted, now to have the chance of walking out at Wembley in the same season is a big achievement for us. We’re all really excited for it.”
From playing at Halifax and Boreham Wood this campaign, representing his nation at a major tournament would be a real coming of age for the 23-year-old, who had yet to find his feet in the professional game prior to moving to east London.
Should he feature, Bonne will line up against Mohamed Salah’s Egypt in Zimbabwe’s first game of the tournament, but the young striker is not fazed by the challenge.
He said: “It’s world football now. I’m going to be playing against some of the best players in the world now and I’m excited. I’m itching to go now.”
“When you’re on the pitch, they’re just a name to you. I’ve played against some big players. On the pitch you just see them as another footballer but after, I will have my big fan moment.”
Orient and Bonne’s relationship has fitted like a glove since the former Ipswich Town trainee moved to the Breyer Group Stadium in 2017.
Both were in need of redemption; for Orient, they needed to rebuild and return to their former glory, while Bonne needed a chance to prove himself as a natural goal scorer after failing to get a run of games for Colchester.
The move has since worked a treat, with Bonne’s goals, coupled with the team spirit in the dressing room, led by veteran Jobi McAnuff, and Justin Edinburgh’s leadership, guiding the O’s back to the promised land of the Football League.
A 0-0 draw with Braintree Town on the final day of the season secured the National League title, queuing wild celebrations from both players and supporters long into the night.
Unsurprisingly, Bonne’s form in his two campaigns at Brisbane Road has seen him linked with League One and Championship clubs, as well as former Premier League champions Leicester City.
But now at a place where he is truly appreciated, Bonne has no intentions of moving on and instead has his sights set on firing Orient to a second promotion in successive seasons.
“[Winning the National League,] is my highest moment so far. I’ve never been in a promotion winning team. I’ve always been fighting relegations. To come here and get promoted back into the League in my second season, it’s the highest moment in my career so far.”
“I took a step down out of the league to prove that I could play minutes and score goals. Now we’re back in the Football League, it’s my chance to show everyone, especially at Colchester, what I can do back in the Football League. I hoped they would have given me more of a chance but that’s football; it doesn’t go the way you always want it to go.
“I can’t thank everyone at Orient enough for doing that for me. Now I can show everyone in League Two what I can do hopefully.
“Where else would I want to be? I’m the main man at the minute. My eyes aren’t being wondered whatsoever.
“It’s exciting to see what we can do in League Two. You’ve seen the likes of Tranmere, Forest Green who have come up from the Conference and are fighting for promotion to League One. I’d say we’re just as good or even better than some of the teams in there. I see us doing that next season if we all stick together.”
AFC Fylde vs Leyton Orient is live on talkSPORT 2 on Sunday 19 May at 16:15
United have now confirmed that the defender, 25, suffered medial ligament damage.
Bailly, who had been making his first appearance since limping out of the Champions League clash with Paris Saint-Germain on March 6, was hurt in a collision with Mateo Kovacic.
Manager Ole Gunnar Solskjaer said after the game Bailly would almost certainly miss the season’s final games against Huddersfield and Cardiff and now his hopes of representing his country this summer are also over.
Ivory Coast are among the favourites for the Africa Cup of Nation, which takes place in Egypt from June 21 to July 19.
A statement on the club’s website read: “We can confirm that Manchester United defender Eric Bailly suffered a medial ligament injury on his right knee during Sunday’s Premier League match against Chelsea at Old Trafford.
“The problem means that the Ivory Coast international will not play for the Reds again this season, missing the remaining top-flight matches against Huddersfield Town and Cardiff City.
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“Furthermore, Bailly is also now unable to play in the upcoming Africa Cup of Nations tournament.”
Bailly had been making his first appearance since limping out of the Champions League clash with Paris St Germain on March 6 in what has been a frustrating season.
He joins fellow centre-backs Phil Jones and Chris Smalling on the sidelines, with the English pair having both missed the Chelsea game due to fitness concerns.
The Confederation of African Football has announced Cameroon have been stripped of hosting next year’s Africa Cup of Nations.
African football’s governing body (Caf) says it is because of delays in the progress of Cameroon’s preparation for the tournament, due to start in June.
A statement said: “One of the important subjects debated was the organisation of the upcoming 2019 Total Africa Cup of Nations (AFCON), due to be held in Cameroon. After significant debate and having received detailed updates from numerous inspection visits over nearly 18 months, CAF has noted that a number of compliance conditions have not been met.
“In addition, after having heard from representatives of the governmental and sports authorities of Cameroon, and reviewed the latest progress on preparations, CAF notes the gap between the requirements of hosting the AFCON and realities on the ground.
“Furthermore, after hearing the conclusions of the CAF Security Inspection Team during their most recent visit to Cameroon, CAF concludes that the Africa Cup of Nations could not be exposed to any issues that could impact on the success of the most prestigious African competition.
“After having considered that a simple postponement of the tournament was impossible because of CAF’s contractual commitments, and the importance of maintaining the competition calendar, the CAF Executive Committee decided that the next edition of the 2019 Africa Cup of Nations could not be held in Cameroon.
“This decision, without appeal, will mean that CAF will now initiate an open and urgent call for new host country bids to ensure AFCON 2019 takes place next summer.
“CAF will ensure that a new host is in place by 31st December 2018, and it will communicate openly and transparently on the process and subsequent decision.
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“CAF reiterates that Cameroon remains a serious candidate to organize a future edition of AFCON, and acknowledges that Cameroon has mobilized significant resources and worked tirelessly to host AFCON 2019.
“CAF unequivocally reiterates its strong commitment to work closely with Cameroon’s government authorities to mutually agree a new AFCON framework and timetable – should it agree to host a future edition.
The tournament is set to be the first held in June and July and will be expanded from 16 to 24 teams.
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