NEC Nijmegen cruised to victory on the 14th matchday in the Eredivisie. Rogier Meijer’s side started in a 4-3-3 against RKC’s defensive-minded 5-3-2. Ibrahim Cissoko, at his second start for NEC, gave away a penalty early in the game. Consequently, Dario van den Buijs converted the penalty comfortably against Jasper Cillessen. Iliass Bel Hassani got a red card after VAR interference, while NEC was awarded a penalty late in the first half, also after VAR interference. NEC quickly scored the 2-1 in the second half and eventually managed to open up RKC’s defence more often, leading to more goals. It ended up in a 6-1 victory for NEC.
- A1 – Very good, could play higher
- A2 – Strong potential to play higher
- B1 – Good, strong player at level
- B2 – Potential to be a strong player at level
- C – Average for the level, rewatch
- D – Below average in this match
- Nationality: Dutch/Guinean
- Age: 19
- Date of birth: 26/03/2003
- Club: NEC
- Career: VVV/Helmond (Y), Vitesse (Y), NEC (Y), NEC
- Position: Left-Wing
- Preferred foot: Right
Ibrahim Cissoko was handed his second start for NEC Nijmegen in the match against RKC Waalwijk. He had a very unlucky start, giving away a penalty after tripping Julian Lelieveld. The young Dutchman let his head drop after that moment and had some sloppy touches in the first ten minutes. Ibrahim Cissoko seemingly gained confidence after NEC Nijmegen equalized, but Meijer subbed him off after around the 60-minute mark.
The Dutch winger is relatively tall for a winger but has a small build. He struggled in shoulder-to-shoulder duels, kind of restricting him from carrying the ball forward while trying to hold off an opponent. The right-footed player managed to hold off his opponent in duels with his back towards the goal pretty well though. Cissoko is incredibly agile and moves very elegantly. He changes directions really quickly. The winger prefers to use very quick stepovers in attacking 1v1 duels to put his opponent on the wrong foot, while he is also capable of timing his action in the 1v1 duels very well. Cissoko looked comfortable and confident running at multiple opponents. However, in this match he did not show his great speed in this match.
Cissoko showed good variation in his positioning. He usually started out wide, providing width for NEC Nijmegen. Cissoko liked to make diagonal runs in behind into the halfspace, not getting found often but creating space for left-back Souffian El Karouani. On the ball, Cissoko preferred to cut inside to his stronger right foot. He had two moments in which he cut inside before putting in a great cross with his right foot. Cissoko has a good crossing technique and created one big chance for right-back Bart van Rooij. Apart from that, I think that Cissoko’s passing was very sloppy in this match, especially when he tried to play a one-two to get past his opponent.
The right-footed left-winger looked uneasy when the opponent was in possession on their own half. He did not position himself that well as he failed to cut passing lanes. Ibrahim Cissoko needed a lot of coaching from his teammates to maintain NEC’s structure in defence.
Rating – A2
It was not a great performance from the 19-year-old, but he showed glimpses of his potential against RKC Waalwijk. However, I feel like he will continue to be a starter for NEC in the remainder of the season. He should be on the radar for the top 3 teams in The Netherlands.
Souffian El Karouani
- Nationality: Moroccan/Dutch
- Age: 22
- Date of birth: 19/10/2000
- Club: NEC Nijmegen
- Career: Elinkwijk (Y), NEC (Y), NEC
- Position: Left-Back
- Preferred foot: Left
Souffian El Karouani started off as a left-back for NEC in the match against RKC Waalwijk. The Moroccan defender played an important part in this match, as he scored the 2-1 while also being involved in the red card situation of Iliass Bel Hassani. Souffian El Karouani is a very dynamic left-back who keeps running up and down the wing for 90 minutes long. His stamina is great but an injury meant that he was subbed off early.
El Karouani stands at 1.78 meters with a normal build. He is very tenacious and strong in the duels. The left-back never gives up and almost always comes up on top in defensive duels. Because of his tenacity, Iliass Bel Hassani could not keep his composure and headbutted El Karouani, leading to a red card. The left-back did not allow his opponent to use one-two’s to get past him, as he always blocked off the passer, not allowing the opponent to continue his run after playing the pass to a teammate. His movement in those duels was very smart. El Karouani always puts pressure on the opponent high up the pitch and is comfortable defending very high up the pitch. Souffian El Karouani’s timing in defensive 1v1 duels is good. One of those duels led to his injury.
On the ball, El Karouani has a good passing technique. He is always looking to be progressive with his passing, as he prefers to play medium-long diagonal passes into one of NEC’s attackers in the build-up. El Karouani’s passing is slightly inconsistent but mostly accurate. The left-back is good at carrying the ball forward, showing good dribbling technique and physical ability to hold off opponents in shoulder-to-shoulder duels. The Moroccan left-back has good receiving skills from long passes. That, in combination with El Karouani’s good positioning in attack, meant that he was a real threat in this match. However, El Karouani’s crossing ability was below average. He did not look up before crossing and failed to reach a teammate often. There is a lot of room for improvement in that area for El Karouani. But, his positional sense was really impressive and he could become a lot better.
Rating – A1
With his contract expiring at the end of the season, El Karouani will be a cheap but good option for many clubs. I think that he needs to work on his crossing this season to get himself ready for a transfer to a bigger club. His playing style suits Ligue 1 well. Souffian El Karouani is a very dynamic left-back with a good physique. He is a strong defender and is pretty press-resistant. As mentioned earlier, if he can work on his crossing, I think he could be a good signing for lower-table Ligue 1 sides.