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Interviews

Forward speaks following international goal blitz

15 November 2018

Striker Zayn Hakeem pictured during pre-season training in Portugal earlier this year.

Striker Zayn Hakeem recorded an outstanding return of four goals in five matches with Antigua under-20s recently.

Hakeem also captained the side in their recent CONCACAF Championship under-20 qualifiers, before returning to England last weekend.

Reflecting on his sensational displays, he said: “In our group we had Belize, Domincan Republic, Saint Martin, Honduras and Cuba. We ended up finishing fourth in the group after winning two and losing three.

“Compared to men’s football in the English game it’s the same sort of physicality. The players are pretty much all athletes so you have to adapt your game.

“A lot of my game is my pace as that’s one of my main strengths. I had to use my brain and adjust my movement a lot more to outsmart defenders instead of using just a simple movement.

“I also captained the team. Some of the other players’ ability – without sounding big-headed – was perhaps not as good as mine, so as the captain I had to lead them and guide them.

“That was a bit different as I’ve had to do that for Mansfield before, but not at such a level as international football.

"I ended up scoring four and assisting twice in the five games. I got a hat-trick against Saint Martin and a goal against Honduras. I assisted in the Belize and Saint Martin games as well."

Zayn Hakeem, forward

“With Antigua, they do want me to play for their men’s team, so we’ll see how that goes. But club football is the most important thing right now.

“My granddad is half-Antiguan and I have family that live in Antigua as well, so I think it [call-up] came from there.”

The striker also says that his impressive goal return for Antigua has given him confidence, as he looks to succeed for his loan team, Coalville Town.

“I ended up scoring four and assisting twice in the five games. I got a hat-trick against Saint Martin and a goal against Honduras. I assisted in the Belize and Saint Martin games as well.

“Right now I feel really confident [as a player]. Coming back from a recent injury, I feel really positive heading back into training on Thursday ahead of the match on Saturday for my loan team, Coalville.

“I’m really upbeat at the moment and feeling really positive.

“I do want to end up with the first team and training with them [at Mansfield] so I can learn more and work with the gaffer. But at the same time I know it’s unrealistic for me to be playing every week for the first team with the players we have.

“So I do need to get experience and prove myself in men’s football at a decent level.”


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