THE international break was a disappointing one for Mohamed Elyounoussi after Norway’s games were abruptly cancelled. However, the midfielder is well-versed in channelling negativity into motivation and is excited to be embarking on a busy run of fixtures with Celtic.
A positive COVID test from Elyounoussi’s international team-mate, Omar Elabdellaoui, ahead of Norway’s Nations League game away to Romania last Sunday (November 15) derailed the Scandinavians’ fixture schedule.
That denied Elyounoussi and Kristoffer Ajer the chance of playing time while the majority of their Celtic team-mates were in action. However, both players were able to resume training for their club and were both in the side which drew 2-2 with Hibernian at Easter Road on Saturday.
Elyounoussi admitted it was a frustrating situation to go through, but the 26-year-old remains upbeat in his assertion that Norway’s misfortune could be Celtic’s gain.
“The international break didn’t come at a good time for us,” said Elyounoussi in an exclusive interview with the Celtic View. “It’s important to keep the momentum going as soon as you have a good win and it would have been nice to do that immediately after the Motherwell game. For me personally, the international break didn’t have any game, which I would have enjoyed, but it hasn’t impacted on me negatively.
“The only positive to take from it is I’m not injured and will be fresh for the busy run of games coming up with Celtic. It ended up being three or four days without proper team training, but Kris Ajer and I did a lot of gym work at the hotel to keep the fitness up.
“We came back on Sunday but had to wait for the green light from the government and we were back training on Tuesday. We missed three games with Norway so I missed out on a lot of football. I’m just happy I didn’t have to isolate.
“It was a frustrating week and disappointing but there’s a pandemic going on and we have to respect and follow the rules. It’s frustrating when you see the other countries playing games but you have to accept it and concentrate on the preparation for your next game.”
The disruption caused by the coronavirus pandemic has become part and parcel of life for everyone, including athletes across all sports. The situation with the Norway squad left Elyounoussi and Ajer both anxious about whether they would miss out on more games if they had to isolate. Thankfully, the regulations mean the pair was okay to return to Glasgow and resume training.
“We’re privileged in that we can still work and can do what we love to do,” Elyounoussi said. “I’m very happy with that but we have to go through a lot of tests to make that possible, which isn’t nice and you never get comfortable with it.
“The restrictions on everyday life have been difficult and we have to be very cautious so we don’t impact the team.
“Other people were still able to go out for a walk or go shopping or maybe eat in a restaurant but I haven’t been out like that at all since the coronavirus came about. I can’t even remember the last time I went for a stroll with my daughter.
“Everyone is impacted by this and I know how lucky we are as footballers but I miss being able to go a walk with my daughter and small things like this. For us, we go to training and then straight home. We avoid everywhere else so we can continue to play football.
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