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‘ I Feel Really Comfortable There’- Aina Happy With New Centre-Back Role At Fulham

‘ I Feel Really Comfortable There’-  Aina Happy With New Centre-Back Role At Fulham

Ola Aina believes Fulham’s unbeaten run is evidence of the progress the team is making this season.

Saturday’s draw with Southampton makes it four without loss, while they ’ve now gone 445 minutes without conceding a goal from open play.

“We all know how it was at the beginning of the season, so from that point to now, it just shows the hard work that we’re putting in, as well as the togetherness that we have,” Aina told fulhamfc.com.

“But I don’t think it’s only the backline you know, it goes throughout the team, it starts from the top.


“If it didn’t start at the top, then the opposition would get more chances on our goal, so the whole team has done well to get us these clean sheets.”

A shift in formation has seen Aina drop a little deeper in recent weeks, but he has settled quickly alongside Joachim Andersen and Tosin Adarabioyo in central defence.

“Normally I would be playing a bit wider, a bit further up the pitch, but I’ve always said that I’ll put a shift in wherever I’m placed,” Aina stated.

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“I’m in a back three at the minute and I’m really enjoying it, I feel really comfortable there.”

That said, he found himself at the other end of the pitch in the dying stages on Boxing Day, and for a second it looked as though his ferocious strike could win the game, until Jack Stephens made a crucial block.

It epitomised a match full of ifs, buts, and nearly moments.

“I hit it sweet enough and I think it was going in, but it was a great block from Stephens,” Aina admitted. “It was such a good block that I had to tell him that afterwards!

“There were a couple of VAR decisions that went in our favour, but it was just one of those afternoons with a lot of buts and ifs, like you said, but it’s good to get the clean sheet and build on from that.

“It’s big for us to be getting clean sheets, it shows we’re working well.”

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  • Its good you feel comfortable there but in my own opinion that is not your best position. I see what the coach is trying to do there, he wants three central defenders when the team is defending and two when attacking, with aina running down the right to add width and get crosses in. Its a good strategy but it hasnt really worked out. In the last game against Southampton, Fulham conceded twice and were saved each time by VAR, the game ended in a draw but the fulham defence were under constant pressure.
    Aina is doing a decent job playing in a back 3 but he plays better as right/left full or wing back. He has alot of good qualities like speed, passing, dribbling and good crosses, but he also has some weaknesses like weak in aerial duels, easily dribbled passed, finds it hard handling physically stronger opponents. I also watched adarabioyo and I saw nothing out of the ordinary about his game, he is a decent centre back just like Ajayi but I feel if he is invited to the Super Eagles, he will be behind established defenders like ekong, leon and newcomer akpoguma. I still maintain my stance in terms of the defender’s being invited to the Super eagles. In terms of defenders with dual nationalities I would prefer german and dutch Nigerians because of their strength and ability to adapt to a new football culture. English Nigerian defenders are okay but when playing against African opponents as well as top footballing nations they struggle.
    I also watched lookman and i think he is the one player we really need especially on the left side of the attack. He is dynamic and offers so much on the left based on current form. If we indeed get more creative midfielders in the Super Eagles, then I see a situation in which lookman will play on the left and iwobi on the right.check out the full team lineup below:






    • Adisboy 2 years ago

      Sportsfan, I have to disagree with you here. Fulham defensive strategy worked perfectly. The goals that you claimed Southampton scored were clearly offside hence they were disallowed. The main problem Fulham has is the forward line which can’t seem to create or score. The defence is their strongest point currently. I agree that Aina was not known to be good in the air but recently he has improved tremendously in that aspect. I have watch all their games since the 3 Nigerians joined and I can clearly say that Tosin Adarabioyo is better than any of our central defenders currently. Go watch the games against Leicester & Liverpool, then you’ll understand what I am saying. Tosin is very smart, calm and confortable with the ball and hardly makes a wrong pass out of defence. However, I am in total agreement with you on Lookman, he’s a baller.

      • Larry 2 years ago

        @sportfan, it seems to me that your comments are flawed with inconsistencies.
        First, Aina is better than Awaziem in the right wing position by far, Coonsideting the performances of both players in national team and club matches, no coach will start Awaziem ahead of Aina or Ebuehi. The two guys are more technical and discipline in that position.
        It is only a technically deficient coach that will start Ekong ahead of Akpo/ Ajayi/Adarabioyo. Comparing Ekong that was farmed out by an average club in Serie A to a championship side with starters in the Bundesliga and premiership is too disrespectful. Perhaps, Elcomparing a player that cannot command a regular shirt at a championship side with the Stars of a premiership clubside is highly ridiculous. Ekong himself knows that his days as regular in SE are not assured,
        Selecting Ejaria ahead of Ndidi is really funny. Ndidi is one of the untouchables in SE and based on his attitude and commitment, it won’t be long before he is considered for the captainship position in SE.

      • Abdul handsy 2 years ago

        @Adisboy: May God bless your counter-analysis here against Sportsfan…

        Watch and observe Tosin very well and you will accept the fact that he is an intelligent defender who defenses with almost accurate level of game reading, calmness on the ball, excellent passing abilities and good technical aerial duels.

        After Balogun and Akpoguma I rate the guy third….because what i love most about him is that he is a player for the big day… With his age today I still expect him to grow better in few years ahead.

        As for Aina, he has really improved defensively compared to the first time I knew him what I just observe about him is that when with the ball he needs high level of assurance on his Ability because he has it in him but all he needs to do is to continue impossing himself and he should continue taking necessary risk just as he did it against westbrom…

        As for Lookman, that guy na bomb! All he needs is someone who will be behind him and keep reminding him that he needn’t to be complacent, he needs to be surpassing his previous records game-in game-out.

        Lookman uses both his foot very well, he shoots with venom, good passing abilities, sharp turning with good decision-making. He plays with panacea, he dribbles well with confidence, he crosses well.. for me, Lookman is the best amongst our wingers of today who is going to be a very good addition to the super eagles by the time is finally done with his lingering switch…

        My 1st-11 of today


        Aina Akpoguma. Balogun. Zaidu


        Ariba. Ejaria

        Iwobi. Osimehn. Lookman

    • Larry 2 years ago

      @sportfan, sorry for the error. i support your midfield combo(Ndidi, Ejaria, Aribo). But disagree with your preference of Awaziem and Ekong ahead of Aina/Akpo..

  • Aina now playing CB role alongside TOSIN….

    I was waiting for those “Mr. Too knows” to come and fault the COACH of Fulham for swapping AINA from his natural FULLBACK position to CB but none is saying anything….

    They claim to have played soccer to the highest level but are ignorant of the fact that coaches do swap players base on the game plan and opponent….

    Sometimes it could be as a result of poor showing during training, but our CSN forum armchair coaches would start ranting anyhow….

    I remember when FERGUSON would ask RAFAEL to play 7, CARRICK to play CB, VALENCIA to play RB, but u never hear MAN UTD recorgnised legends complain.

    In nigeria, pple that know too much would carry HATRED, BITTERNESS, ENVY they have against ROHR and misinterprete it as being patroitic….

    Does it mean PEP QUARDIOLA is incompetent for playing BERNADO SILVA out of his position just to accommodate MAHREZ in some cases?

    I pity ROHR bcos the day he would choose to play false 9 hell would loose…

  • Mercy 2 years ago

    I don’t like rating a certain player over the other but I have watched Akpo games enough in budesliga to know that the man as not convinced me yet enough to displace Ekong in SE team. The trio of balogun, ajayi and tosin play similar type of football and in any team you need a libero and a man marker at CD. If you a coach you will know that you don’t play two libero in a game. That is one of the problem a club like man utd is facing at the center back. SE today have Ekong,Awaziem and Akpos as the man marker. Awaziem is too reckless to be used at the back. As for me, Ekong makes less mistake and he has good understand with balogun whenever they were paired together. Ajayi is not the a better option when ever we play an African opposition. Especially we are playing on those terrible surface on the continent.
    So, I will go for Balogun/Ekong partnership.

    • JimmyBall 2 years ago

      Who gave away penalty to Croatia cheaply in 2018 World cup? Ekong will never be a clean central defender… He should be starting our games from bench.

      • Mercy 2 years ago

        The guy only made just two mistakes in as many matches. The penalty against Croatia and the own goal against Algeria in over 25 matches in the SE. Compared to defenders that make defensive errors on regular basis. Even the best defenders make mistakes. Name a defender and I’ll tell you the defensive mistakes they ve made.