Why Armstrong Okoflex is not getting carried away with his prolific pre-season form for West Ham United
Armstrong Okoflex is not about to get carried away with his free-scoring pre-season form.
Instead, the young West Ham United U23s attacker is going to keep his head down, work hard on improving his game and concentrate on taking it one game at a time.
It is a sensible approach from the impressive 19-year-old, who scored both goals in a 2-2 pre-season draw with National League side Aldershot Town at Rush Green Stadium on Friday evening, adding to previous strikes for the U23s at Loughborough University and David Moyes’ first team at Celtic.
It’s nice to play with any first-team player because they’ve got that experience and composure
“It has been a good week, but I try not to focus on that,” he explained. “I try to focus on what’s next and while I was happy with the goals, it’s onto the next, really.”
Okoflex earned praise from Dmitri Halajko after the game, with the lead coach revealing that the teenager’s clinical finishing was the first thing he noticed when he arrived at the Academy of Football on trial at the end of last season.
And that quality was certainly on show against the Shots, as Okoflex finished his first opportunity calmly after being played through by Arthur Masuaku, then slammed home his second with confidence after the ball dropped to him inside the penalty area.
“They were different finishes, both with my right foot, and I try to get into positions which is what the coach has been helping me with, getting into better positions to get in the box and get more shots off because my finishing had been quite decent,” he continued.
Okoflex thoroughly enjoyed linking up with Masuaku down the left flank for the 45 minutes the DR Congo international was on the pitch, with the more experienced man leading by example with his strong defending, purposeful running and quality in possession.
“He actually got the assist for my first goal!” he smiled. “I played a one-two and he played me through.
“It’s nice to play with any first-team player because they’ve got that experience and composure. It’s the first time I’ve played alongside him and it was good.”
Having played up in the first team himself in recent weeks, Okoflex was able to train alongside the likes of Saïd Benrahma, Manuel Lanzini and Jarrod Bowen and he is eager to bring everything he has learnt from those players into the U23s.
“It was great for me to train with first team and just try to learn because those guys play a high tempo, quick football, so whenever I can I try to bring that into my own game and show I am learning every time I play with the 23s,” he confirmed. “I’m just enjoying every opportunity right now.”
And, overall, the former Celtic player was pleased with the way his teammates stuck at it after letting their early lead slip and then falling behind early in the second half against a bigger, stronger, older Aldershot side.
“We showed resilience and character to come back but after we scored, I thought we should have tried to get more on top,” he concluded. “Instead, we let them back into the game and they scored again after half-time.
“But I can’t fault the lads because they worked hard and managed to get the chance that I scored for the second one. I still feel like we could have pushed on and won the game, but we just have to go again.”