Bristol City striker Antoine Semenyo says that is ‘crazy’ that he could come up against superstar Cristiano Ronaldo at the World Cup. Ghana play Portugal in their opening game in Qatar and it could see the Robins striker line up against the recently released Manchester United forward.
Four years ago, Semenyo had just come off a loan spell at Bath City when the 2018 edition began in Russia. The 22-year-old has now worked his way into playing a part in international football’s most prestigious competition.
Already there have been surprises in Qatar with wins for Saudi Arabia and Japan over Argentina and Germany respectively. Portugal boasts stars like Ronaldo, Bruno Fernandes, and Manchester City defender Joao Cancelo.
Ronaldo has dominated the headlines this week after his contract at Old Trafford was terminated following an interview with Piers Morgan. Ghana will be considered the underdogs for the match, and already Semenyo has prepared to deal with the five-time Champions League winner.
He said: “When I speak about it, it is crazy. I’ve always watched him from when I was young and I watch him now.
“To be up against him is good, I am going to relish the challenge, work hard, and do what I can to stop him from scoring and put the ball in the back of the net myself.
“I want to be playing, I want to be involved. Hopefully, I have done enough to be in the starting line-up.”
Playing on the world stage will be of major benefit to the development of Semenyo who has years ahead of him in his career. This could be the first of many major tournaments that Semenyo could feature in based on the success of Ghana.
Semenyo’s career at City has come on leaps and bounds, having signed in 2017 from SGS College. He has has a slow start to the season with three goals and two assists, with no goal contribution since mid-September.
He has got close to recapturing his form however after scoring a goal against Switzerland in a warm-up match ahead of the tournament. At Ghana, Semenyo is playing alongside the likes of Athletic Bilbao’s Inaki Williams, as well as Arsenal’s Thomas Partey and Andre Ayew, formerly of Swansea City.
The experience of playing alongside players that have played in the Premier League, as well as various standards in football around the globe, will come as a benefit to the forward. Otto Addo has a difficult task on his hands in deciding how to incorporate his players into a system that could overcome the EURO 2016 winners.
“Tactically it is a little bit more different,” admitted Semenyo. “The coach wants us to play a certain way. I have to be vigilant and I have to listen.
“I’m working on my movement a lot more. I’m working on the ball a lot more. I’ve really tried to keep the ball, play around the back and play through the midfield.
He added: "When I’m in I need to make sure I am always available, whether that is in behind, it’s helping my game at Bristol as well. It adds that sharpness and that movement and clinical edge.
“With the characters, we have in the team we want it to be faster, quick, and slick. You have to adjust to that.
"You have to be slick with everything. Moving the ball quickly with two touches and being as quick as possible with the ball.”