Rising junior Samuel Adjei was one of 19 players called up to the U20 Ghana National Team in preparation for qualifying at the 2013 African Youth Championship. The players, all foreign-based, underwent a three-day exercise beginning Saturday, June 9th in Legon. In an ICGaels.com exclusive, Adjei talks about the experience and his excitement about representing his country.
Training has gone well here in Ghana, where I have been given the opportunity to play myself onto the U20 squad for a qualifying game against Uganda and a friendly against Egypt. It has been great to be a leader back at Iona, and now this chance is very exciting for my future in soccer.
The training camp was grueling and eye-opening, but I definitely learned and improved as it progressed. Rather than a three-day camp, as I had expected, it became a week-long session concluding with two local games. In the first, I started and played 70 minutes, scoring one goal and assisting on another in our 5-1 win. In the second, I was substituted in during the second half, and even managed to score our goal in the 1-1 tie. When decision time would come, coach planned to select six or seven foreign players of the 19 at camp to join the team.
I have kept myself busy for a little while, training with Liberty Professionals FC, a professional team in the area. I have also done interviews and had appearances on Asempa FM, a popular radio station, and The Daily Graphic, a popular newspaper. The African style of play is especially tough and physical, so I need to stay in shape to play my best when given opportunities. I am still adjusting to this style, but I have faith that everything will keep progressing.
Coach told me even before the official release of rosters that I was selected as one of the foreign players to be on his team. It feels great that my hard work thus far as paid off. I cannot wait to keep being a part of a national team.
Pick-up games are common here, especially on Mondays, when professionals come out to play and keep their game sharp. I got to play with some famous soccer stars from this nation, and it has been a lot of fun. In particular, it was great to meet Asamoah Gyan, a Ghana star who is a member of Al Ain. Also, I met two members of the Ghana Black Stars, the senior national team. Afriyie Acquah plays professionally for Palermo in Italy, and John Boye plays for Rennes.
I cannot believe how much more I have gotten out of this experience than I had expected. I look forward to being part of the U20 Ghana team and proving that I can keep playing at a high level.