‘It’s a confidence thing’ - In-form Antoine Semenyo on Bristol City, Ghana, Cardiff City trip and more
Five goals. Six assists. 11 Championship starts. Antoine Semenyo could be described as a man on fire.
Bristol City’s powerhouse forward is playing some of the, if not the, best football of his career. And three goals and three assists across January have seen the former SGS College Filton forward nominated for the Sky Bet Championship player of the month award.
Semenyo follows in the footsteps of Andi Weimann, who was nominated in September 2018, and Aden Flint who won the monthly accolade back in October 2017, while Nahki Wells did so for January 2020 too, albeit having only signed up at Ashton Gate on the penultimate day of that month.
It’s more recognition for 22-year-old Semenyo, though, who courted interest in the January transfer window but whom the Robins are eager to keep and build around, with plenty of young talents from the City academy developing likewise around the former Bath City and Newport County loanee.
The win against Reading on Wednesday night saw a tidy finish from Andi Weimann’s composed square pass in the area, following good work by Cameron Pring to release the Austrian no.14 on goal originally. It was Semenyo’s first goal in front of supporters at Ashton Gate.
“We stuck together, kept a solid shape and managed to clear the ball and head everything so can’t complain,” explained Semenyo on the victory over the Royals that sees City 17 points clear of trouble and - whisper it - nine points off the top six, with a congested Championship table ahead of them.
“It was a good three points,” added the livewire forward, who has suiters both nationally and internationally, as his game takes off in the English second tier.
Semenyo remained tight-lipped over speculation that he is set to declare his international future as being with the Black Stars, who may see Chris Hughton appointed as head coach soon (and who was pictured at Ashton Gate recently watching City versus Fulham in the FA Cup... And we wondered who the former Norwich, Newcastle, Brighton and Forest manager was watching that day).
“I’m not going to say too much on that. I’m just staying focused on what’s going on now and staying focused to make sure I get my goals and contribute to the team,” said Semenyo.
“I can’t really say too much on that.”
And as to the interest from elsewhere with Forest among the clubs bidding for the player last month?
“I try and not to focus on that side of things,” he told Bristol World. “Don’t get me wrong, the interest is all nice but I want to make sure I’m doing the best I can to give myself the best opportunity, score, assist, contribute... And focus on that.”
The secret to the blossoming productivity in front of goal, leading clubs everywhere to pay close attention, is the extra confidence that manager Nigel Pearson has instilled in the player.
And everyone is benefitting from that. It’s an exciting time for player and also the fans watching on.
“We’re working hard as a group, me, Chrissy and Andi and clicking really well, and we’re getting in behind,” he explained of his fellow Bristol City forwards, Weimann and Martin.
“Andi and Chrissy make it really easy for me. I can’t complain with those two up front.
“I think it’s just a confidence thing. The manager has given me a lot of confidence in recent weeks saying that if I can do what I do in training in games, then I’ll be a really tough opponent for people to play against,” he added on his own form.
“I think I’m doing that.”
Meanwhile, Semenyo admitted to a secret trip into enemy territory recently: the Robin temporarily joined the Bluebirds as he watched brother Jai make his debut for Cardiff City at Anfield last Sunday.
The right-back came on for the final minutes of the FA Cup fourth round encounter for Steve Morison’s team to show that serious talent runs in the family.
“I’m proud. We’ve obviously both had a long journey, both of us, and for him to make his debut at such a stadium is nice to see. I was in the away end but there was nothing in that, just to support my brother,” explained Semenyo, who was recognised by some Cardiff fans, especially when celebrating his brother coming on for the away side.
Bristol City supporters will hope to keep this Robin as one of their own for some time yet.