Ivoirian marksman, Guy Kuemian Venance has voiced his sentiments over claiming an unlikely Nigeria Professional Football League (NPFL) title with Rivers United this season.
United currently occupies the summit of the NPFL standings with three matches remaining.
Kuemian, who readily admits that getting their noses over the line will be far from straightforward, is banking on grit and determination to achieve set objectives.
“We have three games remaining and two of them are away from home so it will be extremely difficult.
“I am however very confident that we can do it but everyone must work harder than we have ever done this season to see that it happens.
“It is my dream to emerge champion in my first season in Nigeria and now there are just three more matches to make it happen,” he said.
Early problems and settling in
Guy arrived Port Harcourt from Equato-Guinean club, Leones Vegetarianos, a deal which was largely made possible after he impressed against the now defunct Dolphins FC of Port Harcourt (coached by the present Rivers United technical manager, Stanley Eguma) in the 2015 Caf Confederation Cup.
It was pretty much uncharted territory for the skilful attacker who initially struggled to come to terms with his new surroundings.
The language barrier, homesickness, a new football culture and niggling injuries almost put paid to a blossoming –new chapter in his football education but perseverance carried him to safety.
Kuemian readily admits that circumstances are a lot happier for him right now.
“I suffered a lot when I first came to Nigeria but the coach (Eguma) acted more like a father and helped me settle.
“He took special interest in me and always made sure I was comfortable.
“Initially, I could not communicate with my teammates because none of them could speak French (Kuemian is francophone due to his Ivoirian roots) and I did not understand a word of English.
“Only Yaovi (United’s Togolese international defender, Joseph Douhadji) could understand me because he speaks perfect French so he ended up as my translator.
“Things are better on that front now because my English is getting better and better every day.
“Staying away from my family was hard too because I am extremely close to my Wife but I knew why I came to Nigeria so I had to stay strong and fight,” he said.
The finish line is in sight
Kuemian is now just 270 minutes away from improbable league glory with an unheralded NPFL side just eight months after he signed the dotted lines for the club.
With trips to Bauchi and Uyo where United will play their final two away games of the season against Wikki Tourists and Akwa United still to be navigated, the Ivoirian knows it is time to roll up the sleeves.
United are notoriously poor travellers and are far from favoured to claim any points in the two venues where away sides hardly get any joy.
Kuemian however says it is now or never for the ‘Pride of Rivers’.
“Wikki Tourists are probably the best side, tactically, in the league this season so to go and win at their place will be almost impossible, especially as they have not lost a single game at home all season.
“They are a very strong side that is also in the race to win the title so getting a result in Bauchi will not be easy but we understand what is required of us so we just have to go there and do what we have to do.
“Akwa United is also a very good side but we will not think about them right now because in football, it is always wise to take one step as a time.
“We will give this our best shot and see what happens,” he said.