In March, Calvin Bassey got yet another Super Eagles invitation having gotten others in the past but wasn’t considered ready to make his debut.
With the game getting on new gears, Austin Eguavoen threw the defender into the fray in Kumasi as the Super Eagles played out a 1-1 draw.
Bassey had shown enough in the minutes he got on a very difficult ground. As he had become a new regular at Ibrox, one of the loudest grounds in the world, the player could be said to be ready to play anywhere. But what he met in Abuja threw difficult questions.
Nigerians trooped out to watch the Super Eagles and the stadium gates were flung open for all. Filled to the brim and beyond, the chants of the national team reverberated round the stadium. For a player like Bassey, just making his first start for the Super Eagles at the time, it wasn’t the easiest of atmospheres.
The Super Eagles also needed a victory to get a ticket to the 2022 World Cup. Coupled with the far-from-ideal playing surface at the time at the Moshood Abiola National Stadium, Bassey grew cold feet.
He was spotlighted for errors in the game and the things that stood him out became difficult. The player revealed later that he couldn’t breathe at some point in the game. It’s what a difficult ground and an electric atmosphere with great expectations do to a young footballer. Even the experienced get overwhelmed.
Welcome to Anfield, Bassey
Liverpool have suffered a dip this season, no thanks to injuries to key midfield players but their hallowed ground, Anfield is ever a difficult ground.
Many footballers have revealed it’s the most difficult place to play football. With thousands of Kops chanting, inspiring their players on as they sing “You’ll Never Walk Alone” it is a ground that tests the brave.
Bassey has settled to life in Amsterdam since picking up a red card in his opening game but Anfield throws a new test entirely.
Facing some of the world’s finest forwards, the defender will be tested for might, skill and power. And it will be all Liverpool night in terms of spirit and sound, as their fans’ decibels go over the roof.
Currently sitting third in the group, after being hammered 4-1 by Napoli, Liverpool will aim to make a statement against Ajax who thrashed Bassey’a former club Rangers 4-0 on Matchday 1.
— AFC Ajax (@AFCAjax) September 12, 2022
Bassey has played in difficult atmospheres but Anfield is a whole new experience. He will learn, he will smile, and he will feel that’s what he wants to do for the rest of his career – play at that high level that brings great grounds closer.
As Liverpool prepare to host Ajax, it is a good sight to look forward to for Bassey and his teammates and should the Nigerian come out unscathed, then the world can bring on the grounds. This is the dream for him. The reason he showed so much emotion when he made his Champions League debut. It’s what makes champions.
What time will Liverpool host Ajax in the Champions League?
Liverpool will host Ajax in Anfield on Tuesday at 8:00 p.m West African Time (WAT).
Bassey is expected to feature as he has recovered after being substituted in the 84th minute in Ajax’s last league game. He had felt some pain in the game and was withdrawn for caution.