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Clennon eyes Boyz return

Azerbaijan-based striker says he's working to get back to his best

Sunday, February 04, 2018

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ANTALYA, Turkey — Jamaican Andre Clennon says while he has ambitions to return to the national set-up, he is in no hurry to do so.

The former Arnett Gardens frontman told the Jamaica Observer here on Tuesday that he would not want to serve the senior Reggae Boyz unless he was “100 per cent” ready.

“At the moment I would want to get back to top shape before being selected again for the national team. At the moment, I may not be 100 per cent ready for it, because playing for the national team I want to be giving my best.

“At this point I am not at my best [as] I am coming off a three-month break, so I am not 100 per cent at the moment… I would like to give myself one to two months to get back to good shape,” said Clennon, who was in Antalya, Turkey, on a winter camp with new club Kesla FK of Azerbaijan.

The Jamaican said his experience in the national set-up has aided his growth as a professional and he will be forever grateful for the opportunity.

“It has helped me a lot as, [at] that time when I was there, we had a lot of role models like Wes Morgan and (Adrian) Mariappa and those guys, and they have taught me a lot of how a professional should behave and act,” said Clennon, whose last brush with the national team was in 2016.

On the professional front, the 28-year-old said he had taken his agent to the Reggae Boyz friendly international against World Cup-bound South Korea at Mardan Stadium on Tuesday to look at some of Jamaica's talent on show. That game ended 2-2.

“We (Jamaica) have quality players here and that's one of the reasons why I came to the game with my agent to look at some of the players.

“I spoke to him about Jamiel Hardware and some of the other guys who, I am sure, can play overseas because we have the talent; it's just for us to get some of these players out of Jamaica,” noted Clennon.

The former Waterhouse FC player, who had a stint with Finnish top-flight club Vaasan Palloseura (VPS) in the 2016-2017 season, said he is working hard to get up to top form and to settle in with new outfit Kesla FK.

“For me it has been a good experience so far in terms of the level of professionalism, as you have to be ready like from on your way to training...the focus of the players are so high and at no time you can relax during training, and that gives you the drive to perform at the highest level.

“Right now the club is not doing so well and that's why during the January transfer window we signed a new coach, and this new coach has signed about six of us in the last window, so the aim now is for us to get back on track, starting winning some games, and then start moving up the table,” noted Clennon.

“Before, the team had only two foreigners — one from Brazil and another from Romania — but recently the coach has signed two more Brazilians, two Argentinian, one from Cameroon, another from Gambia, and myself from Jamaica,” he continued.

The towering Jamaican attacker says that since joining the Azerbaijan outfit, things have been moving along nicely.

“I had my last professional game last year in finland, but I have played two practice games since I have been here (at camp in Turkey), so I am in fairly good shape at the moment,” Clennon stated.

The former player of Vietnam's Lam Dong FC compared living and playing in Finland and Azerbaijan.

“It is not difficult in Azerbaijan, because if you play in Finland you can adapt to any culture; because it's not so cold as in Finland, and in Azerbaijan and Turkey you can find food you can relate to,” noted Clennon.

Even though playing in Azerbaijan does not necessarily reflect the best of European football, the big Jamaican striker points to the benefit of being in the jurisdiction.

“Being in Europe can open a lot of doors for you as a player because once you are here and performing your chances increase to move around Europe.

“For me the ideal country would have to be Germany as the style of play, the physical nature of their game would suit me,” Clennon ended.

— Sean Williams

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