Enoch Kofi Adu talks Champions League & Black Stars
Africa Football Shop’s Chief Editor Ed Dove spoke to Malmo FF’s Ghanaian midfielder Enoch Kofi Adu ahead of his side’s Champions League clash with Juventus.
Adu has returned to Europe’s elite club competition older and wiser than he was two years ago.
Back in 2012, fresh from winning the Danish Superliga title, FC Nordsjaelland qualified for the Champions League. It was a baptism of fire for the Wild Tigers as they conceded 22 goals in six matches.
Despite the team’s struggles, however, their tenacious, composed Ghanaian midfielder stood out, and his performances were acknowledged by Chelsea’s John Terry who personally praised the former Liberty Professionals starlet.
“I have improved a lot,” began Adu, reflecting on those chastening performances, “we learned a lot from that experience.
“Playing with top, top players was exciting. I’ve taken that experience with me. I’m using it today, and have been using it in the Champions League.”
Adu | During his Nordsjaelland days
This year, after a one-season absence from Europe’s top table, Adu is back, this time with FF Malmo.
Drawn alongside Juventus and Atletico Madrid, the Swedish side have naturally found the going tough. Victory over Olympiakos on matchday two has given the Blues hope of progression to the Last 16 heading into the penultimate group fixture against Juve tonight.
“Against Atletico we enjoyed a lot of possession,” Adu continued, remembering the club’s most recent European outing.
“We flourished, following up on a good job against Olympiakos. We have great players and try to do out best.
“It’s been a lot time since this club were playing in the Champions League [Malmo haven’t featured in Europe’s top competition since 1992-93, when it was still called the European Cup], and the team are really enjoying it.”
Once again, Adu is impressing among his teammates, recording a pass completion ratio of 91 percent. For a squad not boasting too much Champions League experience, the Ghanaian’s presence in the heart of the park is crucial to their success.
Notably, Adu has been central to Malmo’s best spells: “I like distributing the ball, I like to have it a lot,” he continued.
“I like my team to have possession as much as possible. I want to enjoy the ball and continuously want to receive it.”
Adu | Central to Malmo’s success
For the player, featuring in the Champions League is an ongoing learning experience, and he cites Andrea Pirlo and Frank Lampard as key inspirations.
Mikkel Beckmann, a former teammate from Nordsjaelland, is another player of whom Adu speaks with great affection. Currently with Elfsborg, Beckmann represents, for Adu, another example of the strength in depth of the Swedish top flight, the Allsvenskan.
“There are some talented players in Sweden,” he claimed, boldly, “they make the league stronger.”
Adu should know. He and his Malmo side have once again risen to the top of the pile, recently claiming their 18th league title, and their third in five years.
“It’s been great,” he smiled, speaking of the latest step in the club’s revival, “everything’s going well and everyone at Malmo is happy with life.
“Despite heading into this season as champions, we didn’t let up. We’re always working hard, always trying to dominate.”
A Champion Once More
Against this backdrop, and their consistent dominance in Sweden (the side won 18 of their 30 matches last season, losing only four), their European battles with Atletico and Juve have come as a wake-up call.
“The most important thing is working hard,” claims Adu, reminiscing about the Blues’ 5-0 defeat at the hands of last season’s Champions League runners-up.
“You have to always believe in yourself…and always work hard. We have a great team and we know that when be keen possession we can win. That’s where I come in; keeping the ball, working hard and giving my teammates options.”
Having picked up only three points from their opening four matches, Malmo’s post-group stage prospects hang in the balance. The visit of Italian champions Juventus tonight is certainly a glamour tie, but perhaps doesn’t give Adu and co. the greatest chance of a victory.
“It’s football, anything is possible,” the midfielder grins calmly, pouring confidence into his steady mantra, “we are hopeful, and we know that anything is possible.”
Injury has robbed the fans of African and Ghanaian of one intriguing sub-plot; a meeting between Adu and his would-be Black Stars teammate Kwadwo Asamoah.
While the internet—and certainly the Ghanaian sports media—have been awash with speculation linking the midfielder to the national side, as yet, no official approach has been made.
Kojo | The Legacy Looms Large
“Everybody’s been talking about me and Ghana,” Adu chuckles, “Twitter and Facebook and the net, but you never know. It’s football, you can only work hard!”
Despite his jovial responses though, it’s clear that an international call-up would mean a lot to the man from Kumasi: “It would be really nice to be called-up and, personally, really important for me to help Ghana.
“Playing in the Champions League is vital. While I’m here, people are saying: ‘This guy is playing Champions League, doing really well, why is he not playing for Ghana?’”
I asked Enoch to imagine, for a moment, how it would feel to represent the Black Stars.
“To play with my great friends, my colleagues—Jonathan Mensah and Andre Ayew—would just be…”
The smile returns. It’s clear, however, that Juventus isn’t far from his mind.
“Kwadwo Asamoah. That would be really good, I’d be happy to play alongside him. He’s really good with the ball, good with possession, enjoys the game.”
Maybe not such bad news that Kojo will be injured for tonight’s Champions League clash after all!
Enoch and Malmo kick-off against Juventus at the Swedbank Stadion at 19.45 this evening.