Croatian referee insists Super Eagles star merited a red card before netting match-winning goal

The Nigeria international was the hero for his side at the weekend, but it could have ended differently if another referee had been in charge

Croatian refereeing expert Marijo Strahonja has suggested that Super Eagles defender Chidozie Awaziem was lucky to avoid receiving a red card in the first half of Hajduk Split’s 1-0 win at Rijeka on Sunday.

Awaziem picked up the first yellow card of the HNL matchday 11 encounter for a rough tackle in the 15th minute.

Six minutes later, the former Porto man was involved in another foul, pulling down a Rijeka attacker who could have had a sight of goal.

But centre-referee Igor Pajač opted not to show Awaziem a second yellow card and thus a sending-off.

However, former FIFA referee Marijo Strahonja believes his colleague made the wrong call, and Awaziem should have been dismissed.

Per Sportklub, Strahonja said, “The Nigerian (Awaziem) deliberately held the player, pulled him for more than three seconds, and the Rijeka player was in a promising situation. Absolutely, yellow card.”

Awaziem would be delighted that Strahonja was not the referee in charge as the 25-year-old popped up early in the second half to net the winning goal for Hajduk Split.

The Nigeria international, on loan from Boavista until the end of the campaign, now has two goals in seven games.

The former Nantes defender scored his first goal for the Whites in the 2-1 triumph over Lokomotiva Zagreb on August 21.

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