Abdul Rahman Baba: “I’ve got my strength back”
After over three months without a competitive fixture, the anticipation for the season opener for the Royal Blues was understandably large. However, one member of the team had a greater feeling of excitement for the game against 1. FC Schweinfurt 05 than the rest, after his long period of suffering.
The 20th December 2016 was a successful day for most people connected to Schalke however, for one man, was not so enjoyable. Abdul Rahman Baba played in the game against Hamburger SV but that was the last time he started a first-team game until the DFB-Pokal tie in Schweinfurt. Despite the defender making a brief 33-minute-appearance in his comeback on the last game of the season against Eintracht Frankfurt, 605 days after the match against HSV, he finally made his return to the starting eleven last night.
Desire to work hard pays off
“I feel really good,” said the Ghanaian after his 23rd appearance for S04, which is not something he has been able to say for months. His first stint at Schalke in 2017 ended prematurely after he suffered a knee injury playing in the African Cup of Nations but Chelsea once again loaned him out to the Royal Blues a year later. “I feel 100 percent and I’ve got my strength back,” said Baba who has successfully, bit by bit, worked himself back into the team and he is happy with his comeback as he added: “with more match practice, you can regain your strength quicker.”
This proved to be true in Schweinfurt after he came away with an impressive 88 percent tackle success rate, as the 24 year-old restricted the courageous fourth-division side to very few chances. “Every opponent makes the game difficult for us, there are no easy games for Schalke,” Baba said as he was not surprised the positive attitude of the home side. The celebrations after Bentaleb’s goal from the penalty spot were appropriate and Matija Nastasic’s deflected header confirmed the outcome of the game.
Focus turns to the start of the Bundesliga season
Schalke also started last season with a 2-0 win over a fourth-division outfit but at the moment, it does not concern Babe whether the team can replicate, or even better, their semi-final appearance last season. The draw for the second round of the DFB-Pokal will take place next Sunday 26th August with the games to take place at the end of October however the Royal Blues must now wait for their league-opener against VfL Wolfsburg. “The Bundesliga is a different competition so we must concentrate on that now and I believe we are ready for Wolfsburg,” said the Ghana international.
The fact that S04 have brought in another left-back, Hamza Mendyl, does not affect the defender, in fact he is looking forward to getting to know the Moroccan, as Baba says: “We have to play many games and therefore need a good squad. Everyone obviously wants to play but sometimes your body needs a break.” Baba also adds: “we will work hard and the head coach will figure out the best formation. He knows exactly what is best for the team.”