The Schalke 04 defender talks to Goal about life in the Bundelsliga and the 2014 World Cup prospects for his national side Cameroon
German-born Cameroon international Joel Matip has played his senior career at Schalke 04since 2009 and has no immediate plans of moving away from the Veltins-Arena after Die Konigsblauen finished fourth in the Bundelsliga’s just-concluded campaign and are assured of a Uefa Champions League spot.
The 21-year-old midfielder, who also plays as a defender, is optimistic ahead of the new season and hopes his side will get off on a good start even as he could face competition for his place in the first team under charismatic coach Jens Keller, who is reputed for his drilling style, as opposed to former manager Felix Magath, who recruited the player to the first team.
“People leave, new ones come. Competition is part of the football business. I accept the fight,” Matip told Goal's German editor Hassan Talib Haji in an interview.
“Every coach has his own style that has advantages and disadvantages. I don't want to say everything was bad. That is not my style. With Jens Keller I am going down well and he is also good for me.”
Two giants currently dominate the Bundelsliga – European champions Bayern Munich and runners-up Borussia Dortmund – but Motip believes his side can find a breakthrough if they maintain consistency, but that the upcoming Champions League campaign ought to be their utmost target.
“If we hold our consistency over the season, something is possible. But there are also two big teams with Dortmund and Bayern. In single games much is possible, but we need consistency - that's what we work on. We will try to establish ourselves in the upper region of the table. However, Champions League should be the target.”
With Cameroon holding a slim lead in Group I of the 2014 World Cup qualifying second round ahead of the final match day, Matip, who won his first cap with the team in 2010, says he is confident of a possible qualification based on the strength of the current squad.
Although he plays for a country he barely knows, the son of former Cameroonian footballer Jean Matip is considered in Yaounde as one of the stars of tomorrow of four-time African champions.