Imoh Ezekiel gets improved contract and is set for Europa League debut

The 19-year-old former 36 Lions player is getting ready for a first foray in European continental competition with Standard Liege
After taking a deserved rest in Badagry, Standard Liege’s top striker for last season, Imoh Ezekielhas rejoined his side in pre-season training as they get ready for their Europa League debut.

Ezekiel, who scored 16 goals last season, was in Lagos for three weeks but did not have much time to spend with his immediate family.

“I did not stay in Lagos really. I was in Badagry for the duration of my holiday so as not to be too distracted,” Ezekiel told Goal.

In January 2012, Ezekiel came to Lagos before his loan move to Belgium and trained with 36 Lions and this holiday was no exception as he tried to stay in shape for the commencement of the league.

“This time, I've been training four times with them as they moved about an hour drive from Lagos.”

Standard have changed coaches since the end of last season as they replaced Mircea Rednic with Israeli coach Guy Luzon. Ezekiel said the new coach has his own way of doing things and that the players will take some time to adapt to the new method.

"[Luzon] wants to play in a totally different way from last season," Ezekiel said.

“So we need time to adapt, but it will be okay. Unlike Mircea Rednic, Luzon wants to keep the ball more rather than playing a more direct game.”

The youngster was the subject of some bids from abroad but he confirmed to Goal that he will stay in Belgium though he has been given an upgraded contract.

“I always said I wanted to stay in Standard. However, I did not plan to stay at any price. You know, basically, you can say what you want but football is my life and my business.

“I'm not going to hide that I am happy with this new contract,” he added.

Standard will start their European campaign next Wednesday away in Iceland against KR-Vollur, and the Nigerian striker is eagerly waiting and preparing for the encounter.

 “This is why I came to Europe and joined Standard. I always dreamed of playing the European cups. I cannot wait to taste the Europa League next week,” he concluded.