Ndouassel: Football is like a gift for me
© AFP

With a towering physique that makes him a clear focal point in attack, and the pace and technique to be an equally explosive presence on the left flank, Ezchiel Ndouassel has all the ingredients a modern-day forward could require.

Currently plying his trade in Tunisia with Club Africain, the 23-year-old is hoping to use these talents to full effect when he lines up for his native Chad against Tanzania in their forthcoming double-header in African Zone qualifying for the 2014 FIFA World Cup Brazil™.

“Football is like a gift for me; I’m just as comfortable with my left foot as I am with my right, and I love scoring goals just as much as I enjoy laying them on for my team-mates,” Ndouassel told FIFA.com. Self-belief is another key part of a forward’s armoury, and with a scoring rate of a goal every other game for club and country, it would appear that Ndouassel has plenty of reason for being confident in his own ability.

Ndouassel was spotted at a very young age by Tourbillon FC, one of the most decorated clubs in the Chadian top-flight. He joined them for the 2006/07 season at the age of 18, and went on to score 36 goals in 56 matches. His goalscoring exploits did not go unnoticed and secured him a move to Algeria, where he spent a season with MC Oran before heading to USM Blida for a two-and-a-half year spell.

The youngster continued to fire in the goals, and as his tally grew, so too did his ambitions. During his time in Algeria, the forward went for trials in Europe and did the rounds in Russia, England, Spain and Belgium, where he spent a few months at Belgian second division side Dender. And though Ndouassel was rumoured to have caught the attention of the likes of Monaco and Marseille, Blida were not prepared to loosen their grip on their prized asset.

Ndouassel eventually moved to Tunisia in January 2011, where he signed a four-year deal with Club Africain and continued to turn heads with his clinical finishing. Then, while on international duty with Chad on 8 October, he inadvertently became a hero in the eyes of the Tunisian people.

Football can really improve a country’s image, in both the eyes of its own people and in the eyes of others.
Ezchiel Ndouassel

Going into the final round of qualifiers for the CAF African Cup of Nations 2012, Tunisia found themselves level with Malawi in second spot in Group K. A runners-up berth was all they needed to qualify, but they first had to win their final match and pray for a Malawi slip-up against Chad. Tunisia did their part by beating Togo 2-0, and, against all odds, Chad snatched a 2-2 draw in stoppage time against Malawi, with Ndouassel providing the assist.

Chad may have been bottom of the group with nothing to play for, but as Ndouassel explained, every point counts for a team that is looking to climb up the continental pecking order. “I’m really happy with the result and to have drawn with Malawi, who had beaten us 6-2 in the away fixture,” he said. “If it sends Tunisia through, then all the better.” The Tunisian Football Federation subsequently invited the entire Chad squad for a training camp in the city of Sousse, ahead of their first Brazil 2014 qualifier against Tanzania.

For Ndouassel, who joined the national set-up at the age of 16 and won his first cap at 18, this is the start of a dream he is determined to make come true. Chad are embarking on a FIFA World Cup qualifying campaign for just the fourth time in their history, and Ndouassel wants to avoid a repeat of their South Africa 2010 effort, when they finished bottom of their second-round preliminary group. He will no doubt be buoyed by the more encouraging aspects of Chad’s South Africa 2010 campaign, such as their victories over Congo and Sudan.

Chad have made constant progress over the past few years, and this was reflected when they climbed nine places in the most recently published FIFA/Coca-Cola World Ranking. However, according to Ndouassel, Chad also need certain things to change away from the pitch if they are to gain even more ground on African football’s elite.

“The situation in the country means that youngsters are not taking up sports,” he said. “Football can really improve a country’s image, in both the eyes of its own people and in the eyes of others. People have completely forgotten about football over the past decade or so, and that has to change. We need to make the youngsters aware of this, in order to get them involved in sports again and to help improve the general standard.”

Chad face Tanzania on 11 and 15 November, and victory for Ndouassel and his team would certainly be a good vehicle for his message.