African All Stars

Samuel Kalu’s Bordeaux held at home by Moses Simon’s Nantes in Ligue 1 opener

21:25 WAT 21/08/2020
Samuel Kalu - Bordeaux 2019-20
Nothing could separate the two teams at the Matmut Atlantique on Friday with the two Nigerians in action

Samuel Kalu came off the bench but could not inspire Girondins de Bordeaux to victory as they played out a goalless draw with Moses Simon’s FC Nantes in the first game of the 2020-21 Ligue 1 season.

It marks a return to top flight football in France after competition ended abruptly in April at matchday 28 because of the coronavirus pandemic. Nantes finished in 13th place with 37 points, the same as Bordeaux who were a place above them.

Very little was created in terms of goalscoring chances as the league resumed, with both sides registering only one shot on target, with the home team having just one big chance to score.

Bordeaux were one man short for much of the contest after Franco-Algerian winger Mehdi Zerkane was given an early bath 20 minutes into his debut after he was deemed to have gone in dangerously on Nantes skipper Nicolas Pallois.

Kalu came on in the 75th minute for South Korean forward Ui Jo Hwang and was able to produce 14 touches on the ball while having one unsuccessful dribble and cross. His most impressive feat came in duels, winning six of eight total duels, four of which happened in the air.

He played 22 times in all competitions last season, scoring just one and providing two assists, with his side winning all of the matches in which he made a decisive contribution.

Simon meanwhile played for the entire 90 minutes and had 61 touches, 35 accurate passes at 79%. He was the player to get Nantes’ only shot on target, and won six of 10 total duels.

The Nigeria winger had a very productive 2019-20 season, finishing as the Canaries' top scorer with nine goals and eight assists, winning the club’s Player of the Season and also getting selected in the Nantes Team of the Decade. All these were solid enough for the Stade de la Beaujoire outfit to sign him permanently from Levante, with the winger having initially joined on loan.

Another Nigerian to feature in this clash was Josh Maja.

The Anglo-Nigerian forward played only in the first half, having one successful dribble attempt, 16 touches and eight accurate passes before Remi Oudin replaced him after the break.  The former Sunderland player had a hand in 11 goals (eight goals, three assists) in 24 competitive games for Bordeaux last term.

Nantes next host Nimes while Bordeaux travel to Angers.