Yiga confident of having the upper hand in striker duels

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Lawrence Yiga believes his background at the other end of the pitch can help add a new dimension to AFC Sudbury’s defence this season.

The former Dagenham and Redbirdge academy product has spent most of his career trying to trouble defences as both a striker and winger.

But a conversion to a ball-playing centre-half last season has given the 27-year-old, who has played as high as Conference South with Carshalton Athletic, a new lease of life.

The pacey player, who impressed Yellows manager David Batch in their Ryman League Cup semi-final at Ware, the club he joined for the second half of last season, believes it has allowed him invaluable insight into a striker’s mind.

“I know exactly what strikers want and how to play the ball into midfield players,” said the Chelsea community development centre coach. “In terms of how I receive the ball and play the ball in it helps rather than just putting it into areas where strikers sometimes don’t want to run.

“A clean sheet to me means as much as the strikers putting the ball in the back of the net because if they don’t score we leave with a point minimum.”

Yiga, who includes Hitchin Town, Clapton, Tooting and Mitcham United, Margate, Welling and Thurrock among his former clubs, said he was bowled over by the set-up at AFC, leading to an easy decision to make the move from Hertfordshire.

He said: “The manager simply told me we are a professional club with great facilities and all training sessions will be marked out and tailored to what we do in games.

“He said there will be no headless running around and it has lived up to all that and I am excited about the season starting.”

The 6ft 3in player, based in Hackney in East London, who began last season 
without a club, is confident of a promotion push after 
being impressed with the quality assembled in Batch’s squad.

“My ambitions are to keep a clean sheet as much as possible at the back, win as many cups as possible and also to push for promotion — that is the minimum that we want,” he said. “I know it is not going to be an easy season, it is going to be tough and we have to muck in but I think we have a very good squad in terms of ability.”

Yiga, who has spent trial periods with Doncaster Rovers and Torquay United, added he hopes to begin rising up the leagues again with a successful spell with AFC Sudbury.

AFC boss Batch said of his new addition: “He is absolutely rapid for a centre-half of his size and that is a handy place to have him.

“We will look at him in pre-season in defence and see how he does.”