Chidera Ejok was sent off by assistant coach Vedad Ibisevic. At one point, the Nigerian striker from Hertha BSC pulled his shirt over his head. It looked like he wanted to get away from frustration.
Just before that, moments before half-time in Hertha’s friendly against The Villages, Lucas Mauro lunged at the goalkeeper on the sidelines. Ejuke fell to the ground, remained lying down and had to be treated. At one point he stood up again, but before Ejuke returned to the field, the referee whistled for a break.
“It was just a moment of shock,” Hertha coach Sandro Schwarz said after the match, which Berlin won 7-1. By this time the shock had largely dissipated. Black explained the wing replacement purely as a precautionary measure. Ejuke walked the short way back to the hotel with a bandage around his knee and limp slightly, but at least he was on foot.
The shock returned the next day. Ejok, 25, walked around the team’s hotel in Bradenton on crutches. An afternoon check-up was scheduled at a local hospital after Ejuke could no longer straighten his right knee.
The diagnosis was made a little later: the attacking player had an unspecified ligament injury that should not be operated on but should be treated conservatively. Hertha did not announce an exact stoppage. But it should be a few weeks.
What is certain is that the Nigerian will miss his team’s first competitive match of the New Year at VfL Bochum on Saturday next week. “Of course it’s a shame for Chidi,” Schwartz said.
Injury at such a time is always bitter.
Freddy Bobic, General Manager, Sports
Ejuke is scheduled to return to Germany from the United States on Tuesday. After captain Marvin Blatthardt, he became the second regular player who could not practice with the team in preparation. “Injury at a time like this is always bitter,” Hertha sporting director Fredi Bobic said.
This phase isn’t just about building fitness for the rest of the season. It is also about practicing the tactical principles, mechanics and team-finding process. The focus of training camp in Florida is on the offensive game, where Ejuke was supposed to play an important role.
The Nigerian, who moved on loan from Hertha to CSKA Moscow in the summer, plays at attacking full-back three times, and has participated in each of his 15 matches so far this season. “It’s important that we all be healthy. To a large extent,” Schwartz said — before Ijok’s diagnosis came along.
It was different in the summer, the team was little more than a building site as potential transfers were significantly delayed by Hertha’s limited financial options. During a meeting with his coaching staff, Sandro Schwartz recently discovered that some of his players are now only participating in full preparation under him in Florida for the first time – even though they have been playing for Hertha since the start of the season.
Preparation in the summer was complicated
Central defender Agustin Rogel, midfielder Jean-Paul Botius, striker Wilfried Kanga and EOOK came to Berlin in the summer either shortly before the first competitive match or even shortly after the start of the season.
Marco Richter missed the training camp in England due to testicular cancer, Jesek Ngankam himself was injured in one of the first days of preparation and was out for several months, and Stefan Jović was also well ahead due to various ailments. Only shortly before the first-round match in the DFB Cup in the second-division team Eintracht Braunschweig did he start training the team.
The results of friendly matches in England were similarly poor. She lost all three regular matches. In this regard, too, things will get better this winter. The record so far is two matches and two wins.
“It’s also about winning,” Coach Schwartz said Sunday night after the two successes. “If you have two friendlies, you have to win them – to have a good feeling about yourself.” There is another reason why this feeling has arisen since Monday.
“Creator. Troublemaker. Reader. Tv nerd. Proud beer advocate. Unable to type with boxing gloves on. Introvert. Certified zombie practitioner. Thinker.”