AFCON 2023: Calvin Bassey explains the collective effort in their defensive success

Calvin Bassey || imago

AFCON 2023: Calvin Bassey explains the collective effort in their defensive success

Stephen Oladehinde 20:15 - 27.01.2024

Under the guidance of manager Jose Peseiro, Nigeria's Super Eagles have turned their defensive fortunes around in the ongoing Africa Cup of Nations.

 The team, which struggled to maintain a clean sheet in the five matches leading up to the tournament, has now emerged as a defensive powerhouse, sharing the title of the best defensive side at the AFCON after back-to-back shutouts in the group stage.

Formation Shift Pays Off

Peseiro's strategic shift to a 3-4-3 formation has been a game-changer for the Super Eagles. This tactical adjustment was first trialled in a friendly against Guinea and has since become a key part of their gameplay, especially evident in their victory against Ivory Coast. 

Calvin Bassey, Semi Ajayi, and William Troost-Ekong have established themselves as the core defensive trio in this setup, offering solidity and coordination at the back.

Team Effort in Defense

Despite the spotlight on the central defenders, Calvin Bassey emphasizes the collective effort in their defensive success. Speaking to Hot Sports, as reported by Allnigeriasoccer, Bassey said, "Defending starts from the front so if you see the way we are defending from the front I've got to give credit to the strikers and our wingers." 

He highlighted the contributions of attack-minded players like Victor Osimhen, Moses Simon, Ademola Lookman, and Samuel Chukwueze, who play crucial roles in initiating defence from the front.

Calvin Bassey. (Photo Credit: SSE/X)
Calvin Bassey. (Photo Credit: SSE/X)

Bassey also pointed out the importance of team chemistry, noting the limited time players have together due to their commitments to various clubs. 

He mentioned, "This is the most consistent time period we've had where we are able to build and get a feeling of people's strengths and weaknesses." 

His performance in the group stage, registering eight tackles, the highest by any player, underscores his pivotal role in the team's defensive unit.