With the will to win, we can make it

"I’ve never had the chance to play against English clubs. I think it will be a very important game for us, and for me personally," says Abdallah Sima before Leicester.

Abdallah Sima made his maiden start for Slavia first team in September 2020, since then he scored 14 goals in 20 games he started to. "If we focus on what we have to do, and give our all, I hope we can make it to the next round," he says before the UEFA Europa League tie against Leicester City.

You came to the Slavia first team a few months ago, now you are the leading goalscorer of Fortuna Liga, starting to every game. You surely couldn’t have expected it to go so well.
Yeah. I’d say that that success isn’t down to me alone. The whole team plays its part. There’s also the coach, who really has helped me. It’s a combination of things, you could say. Since I started playing for the first team, he’s put his trust in me, and he’s talked to me a lot about how he wants us to play, so I’ve adapted to his playing style, but my teammates as well, honestly, they’re always giving me advice: “You should do this, you should do that.” So, that success isn’t just down to me, it’s down to everything that people have done for me. There’s the coach, there are his backroom staff, there are my teammates, so all of them have helped me achieve what I’ve achieved.

There is a big game coming up against Leicester City, a team you’ve probably watched on TV.
Sure. And I think it’ll be my first time playing against an English team. You know, in Senegal, we love watching the Premier League, and we know Leicester. But I’ve never had the chance to play against them, of course, and I think it will be a very important game for us, and for me personally.

What do you think are the chances of Slavia going through?
Well, if we keep on like this, with the same will to win, I think we can do well against them. If we focus on what we have to do, and give our all, I hope we can make it to the next round.

You’ve already defeated Bayer Leverkusen, a team playing very well in the Bundesliga at the moment. You won twice against Nice, and you’ve been undefeated in your league for months now. So, it must give you a lot of confidence, adding to the solidarity and the character in the team?
Yes. As I said before, that’s our strength: the will to win, our character. We always want to do more. Yes, we are unbeaten in the league, but we want to do something more, if I may say so. That’s also thanks to the coach and his staff. They will always push us. We work every day; we work really well. We have all we need here to perform well. And that’s also why we have had good results, I think.

The Europa League didn’t really start well for the team, with a bit of a surprising loss to an Israeli team. But then, you had four wins in a row. What changed? Was it the arrival of Abdallah Sima?
No... [laughs] That’s not it. It’s just that after that slip-up, as I would call it, against Beer-Sheva, we just had a good talk and we talked about things we had to change. So that game helped us a lot in the end, as it enabled us to see our shortcomings and to perform better afterwards.

The fact that you talked about the issues to address together means a lot in terms of team spirit; it shows solidarity. Is there a lot of solidarity within the team?
Yes, but there’s also the character of the team and of the players, and the will to give our best, as we always do, and we always want to do even more. And that’s what I’m talking about with that first game. After that, we wanted to be stronger in the remaining games.

Can you tell us about your three goals in the Europa League this season? They were actually all headers, but having watched you in the Czech league, you’ are also good with your feet.
Yes, my first goal against OGC Nice was from a corner that we prepared well. We’d worked on it beforehand. The coach told me to position myself that way, so I just followed the coach’s instructions, and I was lucky enough to be there and to score the goal. My second goal was against Nice again. I made a great run, and [Tomáš] Holeš understood that. He knows that it’s my strength. It´s always like that. It’s not easy to be in that kind of position, so I made my run, and he gave me a good ball. My third European goal was the same. There was a cross, and I didn’t even see the goalkeeper. I was just focusing on the goal, so I think that’s also what helped me score all those goals with my head.

It also shows the speed at which you have built up chemistry with your teammates.
Yeah. As I said, that’s something that we work on. In training, it’s always like that. Again, it’s down to the coaches advising me to make that kind of movement. So, when I do that, I can see that I get good service. It was the same in that game. The coach told me to make movements like that, and it’s easy to make that kind of movement when there’s someone giving you good service. So, that’s it.

You scored 11 goals in the Czech league, how would you describe yourself? As a striker who is very good with his head but also with his feet, or the other way round? Or as a striker that has it all?
Well, it’s hard to say that. I can’t really say that I’m a very complete striker, but I do like to make myself available for a pass; that’s why I scored so many goals with my feet, with my head. I hope I will still progress and score many more goals.

Watching you play, it seems like you don’t feel pressure. What about the upcoming game with Leicester?
I do feel pressure, but it’s something positive as it’s what helps me perform well. It’s something normal; the pressure is on every day. But I really take it as something positive, and it really helps me play good games.

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