- Kodjo Laba was only a teen when Togo appeared on the 2006 World Cup
- Al Ain ahead is impressed by compatriot Mohamed Kader Coubadja
- Player celebrates his targets by performing conventional Togolese dance
By any commonplace 13 June 2006 was a historic day for Togolese soccer. That was when Emmanuel Adebayor and Co performed the nation’s first FIFA World Cup™ recreation.
And though the Sparrowhawks failed to register some extent on the 2006 FIFA World Cup Germany™ after defeats to Korea Republic, Switzerland and France, the occasions of that summer time are nonetheless recent within the reminiscence of current-day Togo striker Kodjo Laba.
The 28-yr-outdated, who now performs for UAE membership Al Ain, was a younger teenager when Mohamed Kader Coubadja scored Togo’s solely objective at that match in Germany. Now he hopes to comply with in his footsteps and lead Togo to one other World Cup look in two years’ time.
“The World Cup is not something every team gets to experience, so I thank God for giving my country a chance,” Laba advised FIFA.com. “I was younger on the time, however I went to all our dwelling qualifying video games. I used to stroll to the stadium after college regardless of it being a good distance away, after which I watched all our away video games on TV.
“Although I was younger, I nonetheless vividly keep in mind our video games at Germany 2006, significantly the one in opposition to South Korea through which Coubadja scored a splendid objective.
“I jumped for pleasure. It was an unforgettable match. And even within the recreation in opposition to France, our gamers made an enormous effort regardless of the loss. We proved that we had been a giant group.”
Dreams can come true
Five years after Togo’s Germany journey, Laba began his skilled soccer profession with OC Agaza. He later joined one other Togolese outfit Anges FC earlier than having spells abroad in Gabon and Morocco. His final transfer, in 2019, took him to UAE giants Al Ain.
After impressing at membership degree, Laba realised his dream of becoming a member of the nationwide group in 2016, happening to grow to be a pillar of the facet. He participated with the group on the 2017 CAF Africa Cup of Nations earlier than serving to them attain the group stage of the CAF qualifiers for the FIFA World Cup Qatar 2022™ after he scored his nation’s first objective of their opening first-spherical fixture.
“I was fortunate to rating that away objective in opposition to Comoros. I suppose it was a decisive strike that allowed us to safe an essential first-leg draw.
“In Lome we won 2-0, and I believe that my away goal was the one that gave us the edge. Now we’ve qualified for the group stage, for which we’ll prepare in the best possible way.”
Laba and the remainder of Claude Le Roy’s facet will face Senegal, Congo, and Namibia in Group H of the World Cup qualifiers, a bit the free-scoring entrance man described as “complicated”.
“Our method to the group stage is to give attention to one recreation at a time. We’re conscious of what’s in retailer for us. I consider the group that poses the largest risk to us are Senegal, as they’ve gamers like Sadio Mane and Kalidou Koulibaly, amongst many others.
“These days, every team is of a good standard and competes strongly. And while Senegal are a big team, we mustn’t ignore Congo and Namibia. We have to take every game seriously and do the impossible to qualify for the World Cup.”
Emerging as one of the vital outstanding Togolese attackers in recent times, with 12 targets in 24 internationals, Laba is in search of to comply with the examples of his function mannequin Coubadja and the star of Togolese soccer Adebayor by taking part in and scoring on the world showpiece.
“I was impressed by many gamers when I was younger, but when I had been to select one, it’d be Adebayor. He’s a supply of inspiration for all Togolese as a result of he was fortunate to play with main golf equipment in Europe.
“There’s also Coubadja, who scored many goals with the team, particularly the wonderful strike at the World Cup. He’s a big name in Togolese football. And because he was an attacker like me, I always try to emulate him. I’m lucky to have met him a few times as he offered me a lot of advice.”
Coubadja’s affect on Laba is such that the latter imitates the dance that Coubadja carried out on the Frankfurt pitch after scoring in opposition to Korea Republic. The attacker incessantly carried out this conventional dance throughout his time with Morocco’s RS Berkane in addition to together with his present membership and the nationwide group.
“It’s called the Agbadja dance and it’s well known where I’m from. It allows me to celebrate in the style of Coubadja, like after I scored in the  CAF Confederation Cup final against Egypt’s Zamalek.”
But is he dreaming of performing this dance on the upcoming World Cup? “First, I’m dreaming of qualifying for the World Cup for the second time within the historical past of our nation. As an attacker, I’ll do every thing I can to make my mark on this match. If I get the possibility to play on the World Cup and to rating, I’ll dance the way in which Coubadja did.”