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I loved basketball and Arsenal as a kid – it’s a dream to be...
BOURNEMOUTH’S ‘top dog’ basketball player Antoine Semenyo wants to slam-dunk his beloved Arsenal.
The Ghana forward, 23, is on standby to start against the Gunners today, with the Cherries’ leading striker Dominic Solanke struggling with an ankle injury.GettyAntoine Semenyo celebrates scoring for Bournemouth at Anfield and hopes there is more to come as he settles into Premier League life[/caption] Our graphic of Semenyo mocked up playing basketball, his favourite sport growing up
And Semenyo, a £9million signing from Bristol City in January, is desperate to get a three-point shot at the team he followed as a kid.
He said: “It’s a dream playing against the team you support when you are young.
“It will be nice playing against them but you have a job in hand and we want to win the game.
“I feel like I am building all the time in the Premier League but I wouldn’t say I am there yet.
“There are still many more games to be played and many more goals to be scored.
“So I am just keeping my head down and I’ll keep working hard, and hopefully I will have many more starts and many more goals.”
Semenyo was always on the basketball court in his school days but eventually opted for football.
He explained: “It is a funny one because one of my friends who I used to go to school with said to me, ‘It’s crazy you play football as you love basketball’.
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“I was just good at the sport, nothing more than that, but life is football now, isn’t it?”
And the Chelsea-born star has not completely turned his back on basketball and loves beating team-mates on NBA computer games.
He said: “I’ve just come off the PlayStation and playing NBA with Brooksy (David Brooks) and Tavs (Marcus Tavernier).
“You get some time off the pitch and we play each other and we enjoy it. We all love it and, yes, but I am the top dog!”
The Cherries are 17th in the table and still seeking their first Premier League win under new Spanish gaffer Andoni Iraola.
But they have secured three creditable draws against West Ham, Brentford and Chelsea.
Semenyo said: “I don’t think this group is hurting but it is just frustrating because we haven’t been playing badly.”
The striker made a rare start on Wednesday night in the 2-0 Carabao Cup third-round win over Stoke.
But he was replaced at half-time by Solanke, who notched his fourth goal of the season before going off injured.
One of the highlights of Semenyo’s season so far was scoring at Anfield in last month’s 3-1 defeat at Liverpool.
When we win, it’s like a big celebration and you know you are going to be bombarded — but it’s a nice feeling.Semenyo on Ghana
And although the Cherries supporters have not seen the best of him yet, in Ghana it is a very different story — because he is mobbed wherever he goes in his homeland.
In March, he scored his first competitive international goal in a 1-0 victory over Angola.
And this month he set up Ernest Nuamah’s late winner against Central African Republic, which secured Ghana a place in next year’s Africa Cup of Nations.
So even though Semenyo can walk around Bournemouth virtually unnoticed he describes the attention he gets in Ghana as “really crazy”.
He added: “I tell you, the fans out there are passionate.
“Football means everything to them and we are playing for them, for us and for our country.GettySemenyo (right) with Thomas Partey, Kamaldeen Sulemana, Fatawu Issahaku and Tariq Lamptey in Ghana’s World Cup squad[/caption]
“When we win, it’s like a big celebration and you know you are going to be bombarded — but it’s a nice feeling.
“It’s online, it’s on the streets and you can be in your hotel, just sitting around, and five or six people will run at you.
“When you are out there, it’s really crazy — but you just embrace it.”
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