CHAN Eagles opener: Chikatara woke me up from sleep –Bassey

VETERAN sports journalist, Paul Bassey, is one of the few Nigerian soccer buffs working as technical officials for Confedera­tion of African Football (CAF) at the on going CHAN soccer tournament in Rwanda.

Bassey, a member of the Nigeria Football Federation (NFF) technical committee was obviously praying for the Super Eagles to do Nigeria proud in Kigali.

When the Eagles faced Niger in their Group C opener on Mon­day, Bassey was at the stands to cheer the Sunday Oliseh tutored side.

Nigeria won 4-1 with three of the goals coming in a space of 16 minutes of the second half, courtesy of second half substitute, Chisom Chikatara.

Before the goals, Bassey in an exclusive telephone chat with Saturday Sunsports from Kigali confessed that he was already literally sleeping before Chikatara woke him up with his superb strikes.

Hear him: “George, let the truth be told, I had gone to sleep right inside the stadium during that match. The Eagles weren’t just playing in the first half. They allowed the Nigeriens too much space, they allowed them to grow in confidence. I was dozing off under that situation, but in the second half when Oliseh stringed that change and drafted in Chikatara everything changed. Chikatara woke me up with his superb display and goals. That player made my day.”

Bassey, while thumbing up the Eagles for rising to the occasion said he was confident the Eagles would get better as a team as the tournament progresses.

“You can see that they played better in the second half against Niger. I think the team will keep improving and God willing go all the way,” Bassey said.

He, however, urged Oliseh to be more patient with his players as one or two mistakes should not warrant an early substitution of a player, even when a game is less than 30 minutes old. It would be noted that Oliseh had in the first half, pulled out Jamiu Aliyu after the defender fumbled with the ball on one or two occasions.

“Oliseh should be more patient with his players. A substitution made too early could boomerang. There could be injuries and all that and when you make an early substitution, it could work against the team.”

On the tournament proper, Bassey said it did start on a fine note with a lot of work going into the build up.


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