By Ameenu Shardow
GHANAsoccernet.com was caught in a lengthy chat with Ghana defender Awal Mohammed where he spoke about his impressive club form and national team prospects.
The 24-year-old has been named as one of the 26 Black Stars players heading to Abu Dhabi for the pre-Nations Cup camp.
How do you compare the South African League to what we have here in Ghana?
It is much competitive in South Africa. I just wanted to go there but now I am ok. In South Africa they put a lot of money in the League and they have the pitches and the facilities. But Ghana has quality in players but without the facilities.
I understand initially you weren’t keen on moving to South Africa, but upon hindsight do you think it has helped your career?
Yes, it has helped me a lot because it is not easy. I have been there for the past six months and I think it has helped me because the game there is always improving.
Tell me about your coach (at Maritzburg United) Ernst Middendorp, what is your relationship with him like?
When I went there, he didn’t talk to me. But I knew I was doing my job because that is what I wanted. But at the end of the first round he started talking to me. He told me ‘Man you are doing well and I want to make you happy becuase you are also making me happy.’
How do you feel knowing you are doing very well in the South African League?
I feel good because it is not easy. When you are playing well, when you have someone encouraging you that you are doing well you must be happy and continue doing what you are doing. I am always having someone telling me I am doing well and to not involve myself in something bad and when they called me into the national team, heeey!!! I was happy.
We have heard reports of teams interested in you, do you think with the heightened interest you will remain with Maritzburg for long?
I don’t think so, but you know God. A lot of teams, even in Europe. I think I am dreaming because before leaving here (Ghana) someone told me I will be a big player and I said ok. But is is happening now.
Since you moved to South Africa, have you been following the local game, what are your impressions?
Yes I am always following the local game because I am a local player. I like this league but it is because of something I went outside but I always follow the game here. Maybe when we are playing weekend and here also there are weekend games I had to ask for results. I am always happy because now they say the league is very competitive.
So what do you make of the performance of your former team Asante Kotoko?
I think they are doing well, they played over eleven matches without a loss. I think they are doing well, maybe they are just playing too many draws but they are doing very well. Draw at home is always painful but this is football but I am happy with their performance.
Did your call up to the national team come as a surprise since you missed your supposed justifier in the friendly against Cape Verde?
It is a surprise because Ghana has good players inside and outside the country. I cried when I was called for the friendly against Cape Verde but after crying it hit me that I have to go and perform but I didn’t get the visa. I asked what is this? Then someone called me to encourage me that it was not yet my time and that my time will come. Then I heard they called me for Nations Cup, heeeeey! I wanted to go crazy, crazy. I wanted to kill myself, it is too much for me. Being in the squad for Nations Cup for Dubai (Abu Dhabi) training tour, is too much for me. I will do my best.
Final message to Ghanaians
I want to thank Ghanaian fans because they helped me a lot, with prayers, support and everything. I like Ghanaian fans too much because they love their football. If you do well they’ll talk, if you don’t do well they’ll talk but I love them.
Ghanaian fans love you too, thank you very much
Part 1 of the Awal Mohammed video can be viewed below...