Monday, November 29, 2021

    Zaidi Sanusi : Losing His Pride with the Dragons

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    Naija247news Editorial Team
    Naija247news is an investigative news platform that tracks news on Nigerian Economy, Business, Politics, Financial and Africa and Global Economy.

    In 25 league appearances for Porto last season, Zaidu Sanusi was highly rated for his incredible tackles and interceptions. He was regarded for pace and asset in the final third as he is in defence. So-much-so that Porto’s Coach had to ward-off threats from West Ham and Turkish giant, Fenerbahçe to price away their jewel. All that may have change after some elementary errors by the Super Eagle, the last being in the Champions League on Tuesday against Liverpool, when an error from him caused his team the first goal

    Porto fans have criticised Super Eagles star Zaidu Sanusi for his performance in the 5-1 loss to Liverpool on Tuesday night. Sanusi was handed a second start of the season as Porto welcomed the mighty Reds to the Estádio do Dragão for their second Champions League group stage game this season.

    Sanusi’s first start of the season had also come in the Champions League, and he kept a clean sheet as Porto held Atletico Madrid to a 0-0 draw at the Wanda Metropolitano.

    However, it was a tough night for him on Tuesday as he struggled to cope with Salah’s pace, while he was also partly at fault for the Egyptian’s first goal.

    The Nigerian international was unable to clear the ball after Diogo Costa parried a shot into his path. On replay, there was little Sanusi could’ve done about it as Costa should’ve dealt with it properly, but his failure not to be aware allowed Salah to slot into an open net.

    Aside from the goal, Sanusi also failed to cope with the threat of Salah before he was taken off in the 56th minute for Wendell.

    Following the game, Porto fans took to Twitter to express their displeasure at the team’s performance and some of the players, including the former Santa Clara man.

    Surprisingly, Sky Sports rated

    Sanusi as Porto’s joint-second best player on the night.

    The biggest surprise in manager Sérgio Conceicao’s starting line-up was his decision to hand a start to Sanusi.

    Even though the Super Eagles left-back started Porto’s opening day match versus Atlético Madrid, helping the Portuguese keep a clean sheet in 45 minutes of action, he has not been involved in the last five matches played by the Portuguese giants in the Liga Portugal Bwin.

    In their player ratings, Sky Sports rated Sanusi as Porto’s joint-second best player, awarding him six out of 10 along with Marcano, Vieira and Vitinha, one less than winger Luis Diaz who got a seven for his efforts.

    In a tactical substitution by Conceicao, the Nigerian made way for Wendell 10 minutes into the second half.

    West Ham failed with deadline day bid for Sanusi as the East London outfit failed to meet Porto’s asking price for the Nigeria international.

    The 24-year-old has a £43 million release clause inserted into his contract according to Record.

    In 25 league appearances for Porto last season, the 24-year-old averaged 1.9 tackles, 1.3 interceptions and one clearance per game.

    The Nigerian is incredibly athletic, has bundles of pace and is just as much of an asset in the final third as he is in defence.

    If he enjoys a good few months between now and January, it will be no surprise to see West Ham go back in for him.

    The powerful and pacy left-back has cited Real Madrid star of Nigerian descent David Alaba as the fullback he looks up to and admitted that Super Eagles legend Taye Taiwo has also influenced his style of play.

    “The left-back I look up to in the world is David Alaba of Bayern Munich, many, many people say that I play like Alaba but I want to be myself, I like him so much.

    “Alaba can defend and attack and I’m like him. It’s very difficult for a left-back to attack and defend but Alaba does that very well.

    “Many years ago I used to watch Taye Taiwo, sometimes I search for him on YouTube to see how he plays,” Sanusi added.

    Sanusi was first invited to the Super Eagles last year for friendlies against Ivory Coast and Tunisia after national team manager Gernot Rohr was alerted about Sanusi, who had set the Portuguese league on fire with his quick pace and scintillating darting runs on the flanks.

    Rohr kept monitoring Zaidu’s situation and became fully convinced he had got his man at left back when Porto broke the bank for the exciting left back.

    The player’s transition from an unknown player to a competitive club and national team player was as swift as a foregone conclusion and pronto, he was hauled into the Eagles team to threaten Jamilu Collins’ position.

    He did actually threaten his position as Collins immediately dropped to the bench and was only dug up in the double Cameroon friendlies in Austria when Sanusi was unavailable due to injury.

    Collins knew he had his hands full as Sanusi grabbed his shirt with consumate abilities and quickly won over their hearts of the fans who had been unsatisfied with Eagles left back since the likes of Babayaro and Lawal hung their boots.

    The Porto defender didn’t waste time to bring his attacking-minded defensive skills along from Porto to breathe a brand-new life to Eagles left back role.

    His debut game against Algeria in a friendly in Austria on October 9, 2020, left Rohr smiling that his dream man had arrived.

    Zaidu did a very competent job on Manchester City winger Riyad Mahrez even though the Eagles were beaten by the odd goal in a highly tensed game between the two arch-rivals.

    Four more caps after the Algerian debut ultimately confined Collins to the substitutes’ bench as the new bride held sway and Collins would only come back against Cameroon when injury ruled out his direct rival.

    A wicked combination of hard luck and a dip in form at Porto which also got the Porto fans calling for his head have now threatened to reduce Zaidu to a fringe player.

    His sins were two bad mistakes that led to Porto conceding goals and his punishment was signing of Brazilian left back Wendell from Bayer Leverkusen to push the exciting left back criminally to fourth place in the pecking order.

    Lack of regular first-team club football meant exhuming Collins’ ghosts and the latter got back into the groove meaning business and impressing Rohr and company.

    While Sanusi was in the Porto wilderness, Collins had personalised Paderborn’s left back position, leading charge, assisting and even finding rare chance to get on the score sheet as the relegated German side continued to fight their way up the highest football pyramid in Germany.

    To make matters worse for Zaidu, his place at Porto is not certain as clubs are eyeing him from a move away from Porto.

    West Ham were the most notable of his suitors who explored the possibility of a loan move on the final day of the summer transfer window, delaying his arrival for the Liberia game in Lagos.

    He would eventually arrive a day to the match day without spotting the colours of the West London side and ultimately not getting dressed for the Liberia game as Collins proved Sanusi has not completely shut him out.

    Missing out on a transfer that will end his Porto misery could also mean Collins continuing his good job in Sanusi’s absence.

    It’s certainly not business as usual for Sanusi as he will have to triple his efforts to regain his first team shirt at Porto or in any on-loan side going forward because Collins does not seem to want to lose it again.

    Sanusi was also very close to a loan switch to Turkish giants Fenerbache but the FC Porto coach stopped the deal.

    Conceicao said Zaidu will still play an important role for his team and as such he blocked a move away for the Nigeria defender.

    The Kebbi-born ace was also criticised by Porto fans for some indifferent performances lately.

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