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Zagalo back in the groove

Zagalo back in the groove

After a brief spell at Norwegian second division side, Ullan FC, Alfred Sankoh is back picking up the pieces at Premiership club Stomgodset FF where he is considered a rising midfielder in Norway and the only Sierra Leonean ever to play in the Norwegian premier league. Demo-Sport’s Prince Scott had an online interview with him over the weekend. Read on:

Demo-Sport (DS): You have hit great form since you signed for Stomgodset FF. What has given you the push?

Alfred Sankoh (AS): Nothing other than the determination to be a great player and to play for Sierra Leone, soon. I have been working hard. I am playing regularly and it has been good for me. I feel happy here.

DS: Is it that you want to prove to everybody that Ulan was wrong to let you go?

AS: First and foremost I want to say that I didn’t get a better chance to play regularly when I was at Ulan. They know that I am good but the Coach preferred to play other players. They really wanted me to stay and extend my contract but I said no because I had to try somewhere else where I would get more challenges and be a better player.

DS: Do you have any intension to play for Sierra Leone?

AS: Yes! I am looking for one but I am not going to force issues or bribe for national cap. I am a Sierra Leonean who will like to give my best at all times. I still have a lot of offer.

DS: What are those special things you have that Sierra Leoneans are yet to see?

AS: Very few midfielders have the gift of making, winning and distributing the ball all of which I have got. Sierra Leoneans may be skeptical about this but the truth is that I have not been given the chance yet to prove myself. 

DS: Were you disappointed that you did not make the squad for the 2006, 2008, and 2010 Nations Cup qualifiers?

AS: Very much disappointed but at the same time it is my hope to make the squad this time round.

DS: Back to Stomgodset. You have been a regular since you joined the club considering the fact that you did not have this chance at Ulan.

AS: I feel happy and much more relaxed to enjoy my game and moreover the Coach is very delighted about my performance. Before now things were not working for me when I just joined them. The Coach would always introduce me as a late substitute but when things became difficult for us he turned round and gave me a start.

DS: Why were you not starting games at Ulan?

AS: The coach would prefer someone other than me who was playing with our Captain in the midfield. But towards the end I started playing regularly as a starter, when they saw the changes I had brought, they later came with an offer for me to extend my contract for another three years which I refused.

DS: Why didn’t you sign?

AS: My mind was already made up and there was nothing they could do about it. I really needed to try another place having been at Ulan for three years.

DS: Where exactly do you play now at Stomgodset?

AS: I can play anywhere in the midfield – offensive, defensive and central.


Alfred Sankoh in Action

Alfred Sankoh in Action

DS: Now you have a big task at Stomgodset, what does the coach expect of you?

AS: A lot is expected of me and I have been equal to the task. I took over from their midfielder who joined another club and just as the team was built around him so it is now with me. I have specific instructions from the coach to keep more possession of the ball than my opponents and play more with the ball. I am doing my best and the fans are crazy about my game. They have started hailing me as the new Mikel, Hleb, or Requelmi. Everyday they call me a new name. Some of these names are on our club website.

DS: What really has changed in your game since the switch?

AS: I think I am much fitter now because we train more than we did at Ulan FC and this has affected my game positively. I run a lot more than before and we play a lot more than before. Playing in the premiership you have to be fit to do well. Most of the clubs try to keep the ball and shoot at goal within seconds.

DS: Which game would you rate as your best so far?

AS: Our game against Rosenberg because I was arguably the fittest playing at ease – keeping the ball, and passing the ball to striker to shoot for the goal. My ability to win the ball was so great that my coach commended me after the match which we won 3-1.

DS: How frustrating is it that your team did not win anything this season?

AS: It is disappointing, but that is football. We have to go on and hope for the better. But we managed to occupy the fifth position anyway.

DS: What are your targets at Stomgodset?

AS: I want to win something with Stomgodset and to be a better player and play in the UEFA Cup competition next season. And I also hope to be selected for the FA team of the season.

DS: So where do you see yourself in the next four years?

AS: England, Italy or Germany playing for a bigger club because they have excellent TV coverage and are highly competitive with good money.

DS: Are there other Sierra Leoneans doing well there?

AS: Yes, like Umaru Zaingalay Bangura of Honefus BK. They have been promoted to division one, David Simbo and Albert Cole of Raufoss OK who came second in the second division. They are flying Sierra Leone flag here in their own little way.

DS: What do you think about football in Sierra Leone?

AS: Football in Sierra Leone has grown rapidly since I left. Players like Mohamed Kallon, Warren, and Teteh are all making the league lively. Lions won the title last season and they are still leading the race to defend it again. That shows we are progressing; however, I myself and David Simbo would like to play for our respective clubs when we jet in town for vacation. Meanwhile, Alfred Sankoh is in town with Norwegian second division side Ullern FC coach Remi Wullf for the Johansson tournament which will start today 1 December 2009 in Freetown.

by Prince Scott, Freetown

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