Chrisnovic N’sa: Pressure as a ‘Wanderers returnee’ pushed him forward in PEI

Raise your hand if you have Chrisnovic N’sa’s phone number.

N’sa’s impressive form at The Island Games helped the HFX Wanderers FC defender earn a Best Under-21 Player of the Year nomination for the 2020 CPL season. He also received daily text messages on his phone from Wanderers fans back in Halifax while he was inside the Prince Edward Island bubble.

“Those fans are so crazy, but (they) are the best,” N’sa told “Some of them were texting me every day. One day I woke up and said, ‘Man there’s no chance they’ll be back today’ – we hadn’t played in days – and they were still texting, saying good luck and asking how I was doing.”

How Wanderers fans even managed to get N’sa number is a mystery, but it doesn’t bother the Montreal native who said he’s grateful for the supporters’ recognition of his solid play in PEI and how he helped the Wanderers reach the 2020 CPL Finals.

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N’sa played in nine of HFX’s 11 matches in PEI, impressing as an explosive right fullback. Aggressive on the overlap and in the press, he thrived in the Wanderers system, with 59 duels won and 16 tackles (both third-best in the CPL).

N’sa played 21 times in the Wanderers last season and distinguished himself by playing across all positions in defence, as well as central midfield. As one of only seven returning players from the Wanderers’ last-placed team in 2019, N’sa saw the growth of the team first-hand in PEI, citing a harmonious dressing room as one of the side’s biggest advantages.

“A good relationship started from the beginning – the vibe was already nice,” N’sa explained. “The way Stephen [Hart] put us together, got us like a family, was probably why the team had such a good chemistry. It felt like I had been playing with them for three or five years.”

Three of HFX’s seven returning players from last year ended up earning 2020 CPL Awards nominations: goalkeeper Christian Oxner (Golden Glove), N’sa (Best under-21 player), and attacker Akeem Garcia (Player of the Year). Stephen Hart is also up for coach of the year.

“If the coach brought us back for this year he must believe in us – we felt the pressure straight from the beginning,” N’sa stated. “That’s why the returnees played really well in this tournament. We knew we had one chance last year and if we don’t deliver this time, well, we’re not going to be back again with this team.”

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While pleased with his performances in PEI, N’sa was also quick to heap praise upon Jems Geffrard as a player who didn’t receive enough credit for his contributions at Thew Island Games.

“Jems deserves a lot more credit. He played every game and did a great job for me defending while taking care of the team with his leadership. Off of the pitch he was one of the guys that did a lot for us,” N’sa said.

“We would go down by a goal and he’d say something like ‘just keep fighting’. We go on and score a late goal and it’s like, ‘damn, this guy was right.’ That’s the kind of player we needed and we want in our team.”

Now back in his hometown in Montreal, N’sa’s phone hasn’t been as busy during the off-season, with texts from Wanderers fans coming in only intermittently. But the supporters, as well as the city, remain in his thoughts.

“I want to leave an impact on the Wanderers and Halifax,” N’sa said when asked about his future.” I want them to remember me for a long time before I turn around and ask what’s next for my career.

“The fans are something so amazing. I don’t think that I’ll have something like this ever again.”

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