Bohemians manager Keith Long has said that the upcoming League of Ireland season will be a big year for 21-year-old forward Ismahil Akinade, following the Nigerian striker’s ten goals in 18 appearances for the Phibsborough club last season.
Speaking after his side’s 3-3 draw with Cabinteely during a friendly in Ballybrack this week, Long was adamant that the young striker is far from the finished product but still acknowledged that his forward possesses physical traits and abilities that can cause a lot of teams problems.
“His performances speak volumes for what he’s been able to do with us in his short time at the club,” said Long after the game.
“It’s a big year for him this because last year is gone. He’s a marked man and players will have a better understanding of him and his strengths but he will continue to develop as a footballer.
“We hope to see improvement in terms of his touch, his build up play and also his end product. There’s goals in him and he will create chances and take chances, but sometimes we have to slow him down a little bit.
“When he’s in the six yard box and the penalty area he needs to have ice in his veins and that’s something that we’re working on.”
Akinade started for the Gypsies in their first pre-season friendly and made a significant second half contribution playing a pivotal role in Kurtis Byrne’s second of three goals.
The former Hibernian striker’s hat-trick ensured Bohemians would avoid losing their first game of the season, but it was Akinade who should have won it for the visitors after squandering several chances in front of goal.
It was the first game of pre-season and rustiness is to be expected, especially in strikers, but Akinade continues to be a work in progress and this is an assignment that Long is only too happy to undertake.
“He’s by no means the finished product but he has some really good attributes, which I’ve said on many occassions before. Pace and power causes problems in this league and he’s got both in abundance.”
Bohemians’ next pre-season game comes against north-side rivals Shelbourne, when the Gypsies host the Reds at Dalymount Park on Sunday.
Jack O’Toole, Pundit Arena