Jeremy Ngakia: U23s will pick our heads up
While a hint of regret accompanied West Ham United U23s’ late draw with Fulham U23s’ at Motspur Park, for Jeremy Ngakia, there was also a sense of relief.
The 19-year-old defender, who most often plays as a powerful full-back but who was deployed on Friday night as a centre-back, was making his first appearance in a Claret and Blue shirt since leaving the field against Brentford ‘B’ in August.
Ngakia soon set about making up for lost time, making his presence felt at both ends of the pitch as his sumptuously executed long ball found Dan Kemp on 44 minutes to double the advantage Amadou Diallo had given the Hammers.
After Fulham’s Fabio Carvalho pulled one back midway through the second half, Joe Powell once again extended West Ham’s lead with ten minutes remaining, only for a pair of clinical late Fulham finishes to tie a thriller 3-3.
Despite the disappointment of the late goals, Ngakia was delighted to be back amidst the thick of the action, tackling tenaciously while spraying the ball around with impressive vision.
“It felt great to be out there tonight,” he smiled. “I’m happy to be back after nearly four months out. I’ve missed it a lot.
“We were unlucky not to win the match from the position we were in, but honestly I’m just happy I’m back. Now I just want to get more games in.”
We just need to pick our heads up and come back from tonight. It was a draw, but it feels like a loss right now, so we’ll need to get back to it in our next game
Ngakia’s third Premier League 2 Division 2 appearance of the season fell four long months after his second, away at Newcastle at the beginning of August.
During that time, his teammates have shot to the top of the league table and have yet to lose a game this season – a run Ngakia is backing the development squad to sustain.
“I one hundred per cent believe we can carry on our unbeaten run in the league,” he said. “I believe in the squad, and they believe in themselves too.
“We just need to pick our heads up and come back from tonight. It was a draw, but it feels like a loss right now, so we’ll need to get back to it in our next game.”
As for his role as a centre-back, Ngakia explained that, with his fellow full-backs in fine form, he sees it as an opportunity to acquire more playing time, as well as help the team attain their goals in the long term.
“I was surprised myself that I was starting tonight!” he joked. “I was selected at centre-back as well, not my normal position, but I’m happy to do it for the team.
“I had the chance to train there as I’d been told before the game it’d be best to play there to get more minutes. I felt comfortable and I enjoyed it.
“Now, we’re all just raring to go for the next one.”