<
>

Nigeria's Chidera Ejuke has hit the ground running at CSKA Moscow

play
Will Nigeria's Ejuke and Sanusi shine at new clubs? (2:12)

Colin Udoh and Ed Dove analyse how Chidera Ejuke and Zaidu Sanusi will fare with their respective new clubs. (2:12)

Chidera Ejuke joined CSKA Moscow from Heerenveen less than three weeks ago, but already the 22-year-old Nigerian is beginning to develop a habit of making spectacular starts at a new club after scoring last weekend in what was only his second appearance in the Russian Premier League.

The story is similar to that written when Ejuke joined the Dutch club from Norwegian Eliteserien outfit Valerenga; then he needed all of one game to rifle in his first goal, instantly setting the Dutch Eredivisie alight with his pace, skill and finishing ability, and Heerenveen proceeded to go the next six games unbeaten, the Nigerian weighing in with another three goals, before they lost 4-1 against Ajax Amsterdam.

His arrival at CSKA appears to have heralded similar good fortune for his Moscow employers.

The Russian giants were without a win in three games prior to his signing, having lost two and drawn one, but their fortunes were about to change with the acquisition of the Nigerian youngster.

The Ejuke effect was in full force when he not only made the squad for a road game the day after he signed but also when he played as a second-half substitute against Akhmat Grozny; he did not score but CSKA won 3-0 to break their winless streak.

"I am excited signing for a team like CSKA," Ejuke told ESPN.

"It is something that I was really looking forward to, coming here and playing football. Now that I am here, I am just going to work hard and give my best for the team and hopefully we can gain a lot of success during his period.

"Coming from the Netherlands to this place, it is a difference style of football and a lot of culture difference. I think with time I will get to adapt and hopefully I can play more and give my best every time."

It did not take him long "to adapt".

Next up was the big derby against Spartak Moscow, a rivalry as charged as any in the world and a fixture complete with hostility, meaty tackles and the regular red card.

- Insider Notebook: Arsenal fans' wait for Auba deal explained
- Transfer Talk: Manchester United lure Alex Telles to Old Trafford
- Marcotti: Juventus gamble Pirlo can get best out of Ronaldo & co

"I talked to some of the boys, and they were telling me about how nice the atmosphere is to play in that game because it is a Moscow derby," Ejuke said ahead of the fixture, and the Nigerian was at the heart of CSKA's victory.

Playing once again as a second-half substitute, and with CSKA clinging to a 2-1 margin by their fingertips, Ejuke peeled away into the box deep into stoppage-time and drilled home an unstoppable shot past Aleksandr Maksimenko to round out the 3-1 scoreline.

There was only a limited number of fans in the stadium because of COVID-19 restrictions, but the eruption following Ejuke's goal had the atmosphere feeling as though it was a packed house.

"It was exciting to score," Ejuke said.

"Each time I go out there I just want to do my best, give my best to the fans, to the team, and, as the season goes, I can keep scoring. I am just looking forward to that.

"The fans were impressive, they came out massive. They were supporting and cheering even though we went a goal down in the beginning of the game... it was really massive, and I really enjoyed what I saw. The atmosphere was crazy and I am looking forward to more of this atmosphere in the coming games."

He will not be disappointed on that score, as the CSKA fans have a passion that compares with any big club around the world -- and in previous seasons they have showered their affections on Ejuke's compatriots Chidi Odiah and Ahmed Musa.

Both won multiple league and cup titles with CSKA, and played in European competition with Odiah helping the army club to UEFA Cup success in 2005.

"Oh, yeah, [CSKA] spoke a lot about [Odiah and Musa]... what they did during their period at the club, how they contributed to the team and everything," Ejuke said.

It is a mark of Musa's legacy at CSKA that the club's video welcoming Ejuke featured the Super Eagles captain as "the Flash", handing over to Ejuke as "the new Flash", a salute to the blazing pace and shared nationality of the players.

play
1:34

Napoli's Osimhen 'delivers every time' on the pitch

Colin Udoh expects Nigerian Victor Osimhen to have a big season at Napoli after a transfer from Lille.

Musa has valuable advice for the young man expected to build on his legacy in Moscow.

"He will find love and support from the fans," Musa told ESPN.

"The advice I will give to him is that he should focus on playing football. If he is there to play football and he puts his focus on it, he will play very well.

"But if he is there to party and go clubbing, he will not play anything because life there is very tempting and sweet and no one will stop him. So let him focus on football and not life."

Ejuke appears to be taking that lesson to heart.

"It was a great week during the international break because I had to put in a lot of work, training with the team," Ejuke said.

"It's been a lot going on, but everything is good. I am settling in so that's good for me."

Ejuke's year is about to get even better, as he is expected to feature on Monday when Nigeria coach Gernot Rohr announces his Super Eagles squad for the October friendlies against Ivory Coast and Tunisia in Austria.

"We have a test match and it is the last opportunity before the qualifying matches in November," Rohr told ESPN.

"So the result is not important, and we will see some new young players like Ejuke from Moscow, and Samson Tijani, the former under-17 captain, 18 years old and a very good player. And also the goalkeeper from LASK, Tobias Lawal."

So far, although early days in Moscow, the signs are looking good for Ejuke.