4 Chika Wali
- Place of Birth
- Date of Birth
- Joined Since
Twenty-four-year-old Chika Wali owes it a lot to Pune FC. He makes no bones about the fact by agreeing that his overseas professional football career kick-started when Indian football’s latest club gave him the opportunity in 2009.
The sturdy player may have come a long way from the playing fields of Nigeria, but in four years of playing Indian domestic football he has earned distinction of terms such as solid and reliable.
The highlight of Nigerian’s career has been being part of the Pune FC team which qualified for the I-League in 2009. He was also a part of the side that played English Premier League side Blackburn Rovers FC in the historic match at Pune (7th October, 2011). His transition to sub-continental football has been seamless.
It is no wonder that, Wali’s career line takes a detour wherein he was snapped by Prayag United SC for the 2010-11 season and ran the famed maidans of Kolkata.
Now in Pune FC set-up for his second season in a row (third overall), Chika brings all the classical defender traits to the field-imposing physical presence and strength, solid tackles and ability in the air.
Add to his arsenal the skills of a good marker in a one-on-one situation and slowly one realizes why he can be a pain for opposing strikers. In fact, on I-League debut (v/s East Bengal) in Pune FC’s colors, every Pune FC fan who watched him will agree that he brought India’s iconic striker Bhaichung Bhutia to a near grinding halt.
Having guarded the backline, Chika during his return stint (2011-12) contributed two goals – the first against Sporting Clube de Goa (Round-2) and then against Air-India (Round-16). Incidentally, both goals were equalizer goals scored off headers in the dying moments of the games.
Chika, in many ways, is a true-blue Pune FC ‘find’- having played just a season back in Africa before being scouted out by Pune FC. His performance so far has completely justified the signing of the big guy from Nigeria.
From the grounds of River State, he started playing the game when he was eight beginning with school games and all school tournaments. He was then picked to play for his state where he used to play as a defensive midfielder.
Incidentally, the Nigerian, in his early days wanted to be a striker – he loved scoring goals – but a coach said that he would go much further in the game if he played back considering his height and physique.
Later a scout spotted him and got him a contract to play for a club in the neighboring Republic of Benin, a two hour drive from his place in Nigeria. He spent a season there – his first as a professional in the game.
He came to India on the invitation of Pune FC. A close friend of Chika introduced him to a manager in India who then brought him to the notice of Pune FC leading to his present contract.