Lillestrom sports director Torgeir Bjarmann being interviewed by Kola Daniel
Monday Nov 07, 2016. 16:53
Lillestrom sports director Torgeir Bjarmann has predicted Nigeria midfielder Ifeanyi Matthew will be the Norwegian club’s next big export to a top league in Europe.
On Sunday, the Oslo-based club escaped relegation from the Norwegian top league with Ifeanyi Matthew again playing a big part for them to beat Molde 1-0 at home to ensure their safety.
In the summer, the former Kano Pillars and El Kanemi Warriors star signed a four-year contract with Lillestrom and he has gone on to play eight matches, scoring two goals this past season.
“He is a fantastic player and he will be our next big export to the top league in Europe,” raved the Lillestrom top official
“It took Ifeanyi Matthew a month to be ready for our first team and now he is a regular in the team and he will be the next big success for Lillestrom."
Lillestrom have been very successful in grooming Nigerian talent for the top leagues in Europe – Nosa Igiebor (from Israel and later La Liga), Fred Friday (to Dutch league), Anthony Ujah (German Bundesliga).
Bjarmann said this has been possible because they are ready to be patient with the players to fit into a new way of life and style of football.
“Lillestrom are very patient with Nigerian players because it will take some time with their integration, the weather is quite colder and the style of football is also different,” said the former defender, who also worked with Mikel Obi and Chinedu Obasi at Lyn Oslo.
“Norwegian is a lot more direct, not like you have in Nigeria. You have to be strong, smart, you have to be more tactically aware and play the way the coach wants you to play.
“But we also try to let them be themselves while trying to get them to play in the European style.”
He added: "There is a lot of talent and potentials in Nigeria but the way of playing is 100% different from we play in Norway.
“We are always looking for players with the X-factor, something special.”
He attributed their struggle against relegation this past season to problems in defence.
“We struggled a lot in the second half of the season, but we were one of the three top-scoring teams in the top league, but we conceded too many goals at the back,” he said.
By Kola Daniel