The injury to Shehu Abdullahi in Nigeria’s first match against Burundi after just 20 minutes offered Chidozie Awaziem a rare opportunity to shine. The 22-year-old currently playing in the Turkish top tier with Çaykur Rizespor on loan from FC Porto, naturally, a right-back was thrown into the deep end to hold forte at right back.
Abdullahi failed to recover in time and Awaziem has been called upon to continue in the role, and hasn’t put a foot wrong, playing in every game as Nigeria weaved through to the semi-finals of the Total Africa Cup of Nations Egypt 2019.
And the defender has admitted he feels comfortable playing in the role.
“I don’t think it has been hard for me because as a player you have to be ready when called upon. I was happy to get some playing time. I am here to serve the nation and in whichever capacity or position the coach wants me to be in, I am ready,” Awaziem told Cafonline.com.
The defender was just 16 years when Nigeria last won the title and he is playing in his first AFCON having thrived in his loan spell in Turkey enough to convince head coach Gernot Rohr to hand him a call up to the national team.
The five games he has played at the AFCON have pushed his number of caps to 11 and the best thing for him, is to cap this memorable year with a winner’s medal around his neck.
“We feel so wonderful to be in the semis. We fought hard for this and everyone gave there all. We were not in the last two AFCONs and winning this will be our best way to pay Nigerians back for missing,” Awaziem further stated.