Rizespor have been on excellent form recently, with centre back Chidozie Awaziem one of the star performers, we take a closer look at the stylish young centre back.
Born in Enugu, the central defender joined FC Porto in 2014, where he spent his last year as a junior and won the corresponding league title. His senior debut was made with the B-team, in the Segunda Liga.
On 27 January 2016, aged 19, Awaziem appeared in his first competitive game with the main squad, featuring the full 90 minutes in a 0-2 away loss against C.D. Feirense for the Taça da Liga. His maiden appearance in the Primeira Liga took place on 12 February, as he again started in a 2-1 win at S.L. Benfica due to an injury crisis to the defense.
Aged 19, Awaziem was called up by Nigeria for friendlies against Mali and Luxembourg, on 27 and 31 May 2016. He made his senior debut on 1 June 2017, starting in a 3-0 win over Togo in Paris in another exhibition game.
Still on the payroll of Porto, the defender is on-loan to Rizespor.
It is the duo of Azubuike Okechukwu and Aminu Umar that have grabbed all the headlines for Rizespor in the Turkish Super Lig recently, but Awaziem is also a key member of the side. In the eight matches that Awaziem played in the league, Rizespor won six, drew one and lost one.
Finding himself on the bench at the early part of the season for Porto, Awaziem’s form seemed to dip.
Following his January loan move to Rizespor, the now 22-year-old defender is now seen as one of the biggest talents in Turkey.
At 1.88cm, Awaziem possesses great speed, and will often storm forward to join attacks, also using his great vision to start them.
His marauding nature leads to comparisons with the likes of Jan Verthonghen, and Lucio. The youngster is clearly confident in his own abilities.
A calm defender, that doesn’t often leap into tackles, Awaziem’s positioning is improving, but still needs a little work if he is to make the next big step up.
There is no doubt he has all the capabilities of becoming a top defender, he has the talent to add to his four caps for the Super Eagles.