July 4, 2019
Ganago’s four pre-seasons
Back at work since 24 June, Ignatius Ganago returned to the training ground earlier than expected this summer. A chance to look back over the Cameroonian’s four main pre-seasons in the game.
The first real pre-season
My first pre-season took place at the École de foot des Brasseries du Cameroun. Some huge players have come out of this academy (Eto’o, Song, Djemba Djemba, Olembe, or even Aboubakar, Editor’s note), but that only really registered with me much later on. I was there for the pleasure more than anything else, because I loved football.
The early days were difficult because I had never been at an academy until then, so I was struggling with my cardio work, but I got stronger over time. On top of that, I was playing with the guys from 98, whereas I am the year younger - so competition was high. I needed to work harder than them in order to improve: That gave me the desire to push even harder. That’s what allowed me to be at Nice today.
The first pre-season in Europe
When I arrived at OGC Nice, Balotelli, a player that I admire a lot was here, like Dante. I quickly got on well with my teammates in the Academy, especially thanks to another player from Cameroon, Alvaro (Ngamba) who helped me greatly.
I scored quite a few goals with the reserves during pre-season, so much so that Coach Favre quickly called me up to the first team. The first sessions were very difficult and very different. The rhythm was a lot higher, a lot more intense. Dante took me under his wing. He was always behind me and always gave me advice. Even when I was playing against him, if I made a bad run, he pulled me up on it and told me how I should have made the run. In a way that with my power, the defender can’t catch me. His help did me a lot of good and helped my confidence. After the sessions, I thought back on what he said in my room at the Academy, saying to myself that he had to be right.
The first pre-season with the Pros
My performances in 2017-18 allowed me to start last season with the first team and a new coach: Coach Vieira. The pre-season wasn’t the same as the one from the previous summer in the Academy. There were a lot more drills involving the ball and running - a mix between the physical and the technical. As I wasn’t used to that, it was difficult to adapt, but the coach was always supporting us, pushing us to work harder.
I also took part in my first pre-season trip to Divonne. Everything went well, we had good training sessions and I was sharing a room with Eddy Sylvestre, who I knew from the Academy. The coach was happy... until I got injured. That put me in a bad place, but I didn’t give up.
The first early return to pre-season
This summer, when I was told that I was expected back on 24 June, I thought immediately that I would have a little less holidays than planned. But I admit, with the benefit of hindsight, that coming back early helped me. I worked for a week before the full squad came back and I feel really good now... I know that I will progress thanks to this!
On Monday, the rest of the team came back and it went really well, everyone was right back at it from the very first session. It’s a good thing. Now I am looking forward to what’s to come.