Chidera Ejuke:Striving to Match Dribbling Skill with Scoring

He is regarded as one of the best dribblers in Europe, his average of 2.2 dribbles per game rates him as Bundesliga’s best dribbler so far this season. Yet putting the ball behind the goalkeeper has been the major challenge for Chidera Ejuke. With the second half of the season to begin after the World Cup, Hertha Berlin, head coach, Sandro Schwarz is optimistic that the Nigeria international would find his scoring boot

Super Eagles winger, Chidera Ejuke is having his first spell in the German top flight, but things are yet not going according to plan as far as goal scoring is concern. He has been unlucky in front of goal since joining Hertha Berlin on loan from Russian side, CSKA Moscow in the summer.

The 24-year-old has made 14 appearances in the Bundesliga and has impressed with three assists.

But the Nigeria international is yet to open his goalscoring account in the German top flight.

The former Heerenveen man has had 20 unsuccessful shots on goal this season, the worst of any Bundesliga player.

Still, Ejuke has shown at previous clubs that he can find the back of the net even as a midfilder.

The Hertha Berlin number 40 scored 15 goals in 69 games for Norwegian side Valerenga, netted 10 in 29 matches for Heerenveen, and managed 10 in 65 appearances for CSKA Moscow.

It however appears only a matter of time before Ejuke finds his range in Germany, and Hertha are backing him to do just that.

Convinced of the Nigerian playmaker’s quality in the final third, Hertha Berlin head coach, Sandro Schwarz said: “Chidi will score his goals. He has the quality.

“We will continue supporting and encouraging him to get into these situations. Then the penny will drop for him too, and he will score. It’s human for a player to struggle with his quality and be very self-critical.”

While Ejuke’s goalscoring statistic in Germany has been an unpleasant read, his dribbling numbers, however, remain top-notch.

The former Valerenga ace is the Bundesliga’s best dribbler, averaging 2.2 dribbles per game.

That however did not impress the Super Eagles head coach Jose Peseiro who has snubbed Ejuke for Nigeria’s friendly match against Portugal on November 17.

The 24-year-old Super Eagle took advantage of the Fifa ruling relating to the Russian invasion of Ukraine to end his stay at CSKA Moscow after he suspended his contract in April.

Ejuke used the temporary employment rules approved by the world governing body Fifa to terminate his contract.

“Two PFC CSKA foreign footballers will play for other teams in the 2022-23 season,” the club confirmed on their official website. “Striker Chidera Ejuke and midfielder Arnor Sigurdsson have used the temporary employment rules, which were approved by The Bureau of the Fifa Council, and suspended their respective deals with PFC CSKA until June 30, 2023.”

The Russian club however said they were against the decision taken by the player and vowed to file a lawsuit to defend the club’s interest against Fifa’s decision.

“PFC CSKA regrets the players’ decision, which was taken despite the club’s effort and their contract duties,” the statement continued adding: “As was announced earlier, PFC CSKA plans to fill in lawsuits to defend its interests against Fifa’s decision, which we consider discriminatory and contrary to the statutes of that organisation.”

On June 21, Fifa announced they had extended until June 2023 the possibility for foreign players and coaches based in Ukraine and Russia to unilaterally suspend their contracts and move to another club.

In a statement, Fifa said: “The Bureau of the Fifa Council has decided to extend the temporary employment rules established in the Regulations on the Status and Transfer of Players (STP) with the aim of effectively assisting players, clubs, and coaches impacted by the war in Ukraine.

“The decision follows changes made to the transfer rules in March following Russia’s invasion of Ukraine. Should clubs affiliated with the Ukrainian Association of Football [UAF] or the Football Union of Russia (FUR) not reach a mutual agreement with their respective foreign players and coaches before or on 30 June 2022… these players and coaches will have the right to suspend their employment contracts with their clubs until 30 June 2023.”

In March 2017, Ejuke signed a three-year contract with Eliteserien side Valerenga and in July 2019, he moved to the Netherlands to play for SC Heerenveen, ignoring interest from clubs such as Besiktas JK and Lazio.

On August 28, 2020, CSKA Moscow announced the signing of Ejuke from Heerenveen on a four-year contract and he scored his first goal for the Army Men on September 20, 2020, in a 3-1 derby win over Spartak Moscow.

Reacting to his transfer, the three-cap Super Eagles winger said, “I’m looking forward to Hertha, to the Bundesliga and this special challenge. I want to do my part to help the club achieve its goals.”

Hertha Sporting Director, Fredi Bobic, said of his new acquisition, “Chidera has already proven himself in several European leagues.

“He brings technique, versatility and skills. We are convinced that he will augment our game.”

As a dress rehearsal ahead of the second half of the season Ejuke on Wednesday found the back of the net for the Bundesliga side as Hertha Berlin defeated Eintracht Braunschweig 1-0 in a friendly match.

The CSKA Moscow loanee fired the ball into the right corner 10 minutes into the second half for the game-winning goal.

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