INTERVIEW OF THE WEEK: KENNY ROCHA
Last summer Kenny Rocha came over from sister club Nancy in France. The 22-year-old midfielder from Cape Verde scored his first goal against Standard last weekend. By doing so he delivered KV Oostende an important three points in the battle for the title. We sat down with him for an extensive chat.
Kenny, your first goal for KV Oostende. That must be a good feeling, right?
That gives a very good feeling. Especially since I scored the only goal in the game and the team could therefore keep the three points at home. It's a very important win, because almost all our competitors lost their match. So we did a golden thing in the battle for retention. On a personal level, that first goal is a relief. Hopefully a few more will follow in the coming weeks.
Since this summer you also live in Ostend, how do you like it here?
Quiet, but I'm definitely enjoying it. I live between the stadium and the city center. So it's not so far at all if I want to go somewhere. The people here on the street are very friendly. Sometimes they recognize me and supporters want to take a picture with me. I'm happy to make time for that.
You participated with Cape Verde in the Africa Cup last month. You covered a nice course, didn't you?
That's right! For a small country, we had a very nice run. We won our first match against Ethiopia, but lost our second match against Burkina Faso. So in the last match, we had to rack up points, to still have a chance of reaching the next round. Against host Cameroon we fell behind in the first half, but in the second half I gave an assist for the equalizer. The match ended 1-1, and so we advanced to the eighth finals as the best third. Unfortunately, we received two red cards in that match and ended up losing 2-0 after goals from Bamba Dieng and Sadio Mané.
Sadio Mané plays for Liverpool FC, are the rumors true that there was also concrete foreign interest for you? Names like Porto, Feyenoord and even Liverpool were mentioned.
There have been contacts between my manager and some clubs but it's not like an immediate transfer was in the air. For me, there was never any doubt. It was certain that I would still play for KV Oostende after New Year.
After the Africa Cup you came back to Oostende and experienced some difficult weeks. How did you experience that?
When I was at the Africa Cup, the team did well and when I came back I ended up next to the selection for a while. That is not easy but I have always continued to work hard. For me, it is now a big advantage that the new coach speaks French. That way there can be no miscommunication and I like the way he trains. I am also happy that I now get my chance under Yves Vanderhaeghe. I have always continued to work hard and that has paid off.
How do you see the season ending?
It's good that we were able to take the three points against Standard. That gives us some more breathing space. We now have six more matches to show our qualities. Of course it's a pity that when you don't make the Champions Play-Offs or Europe Play-Offs, the competition ends so early. But in the period that we have no matches, it is certainly not a vacation for us. We will continue to train for a few more weeks.
If you are allowed to dream, what is the competition of choice for you?
I know that many players dream of the Premier League, La Liga, Serie A... But if I could choose, I would like to play a Champions League match one day. In addition, I would also like to play a World Cup with Cape Verde. That's really a dream. The problem is that Cape Verde is a small soccer country and only five African teams are allowed to go to the World Championship. In soccer of course you never know and anything is possible. But let's not look ahead of the facts, first grab the three points Saturday against STVV before I can dream of a world championship (laughs).