YAO AIMING FOR PROGRESS IN BELGIUM
New Yorker Devann Yao met up with his Royal Boussu Dour Borinage team at the beginning of the month and is looking forward to his second season in Belgium.
"During the summer break I saw my family and friends but also kept training," the 22-year-old told Yanks Abroad after their first friendly of the season against new Pro League team, Sporting Charleroi.
"(The trainer) gave us a program to follow during the summer time and I just followed it; I trained."
The former Ipswich Town man is hoping for good things for himself and his team after a mid-table finish last season.
"The team brought in three new players; a defender, a forward and a left midfielder. We also have good players that came back so it should be a good season for us."
Although full of confidence in his team and coaching staff, the native of Harlem knows that the 2012-13 season isn't going to be an easy one.
"This is going to be a tougher season than last season, I can already tell you that," Yao stated. There is Mouscron and Oudenarde that came up, as well as St Trond and Westerlo that came down. It's going to be a tougher league but we also have more ambitions than last season."
"Last season I think we finished tenth and before our last games we were seventh or eighth, so we didn't finish the season strong but I think we're going to do well this season."
Having just signed a contract extension before the end of last season, Yao has set some personal goals and feels that he will be a better player than he was during his first year in Belgium.
"Last year I scored five goals during the whole season but missed 12 games because of injuries and (a couple of) red cards. I think if everything goes well and I stay away from the red cards and the injuries, playing 11 or 12 more games, I would hope to score more than 10 goals. That's my personal goal. For the team, I would like to finish top five. Even though we're a small team, we can do it. We can do it."
As with every young player, Yao's goal is to only get better and better.
"I have to be more clever on the field. I've picked up some movements in my position and I've also learned a few tricks last season. I'm more familiar now with the team and the league, so feel more confident. I can still learn a lot though."
As for the game against Charleroi, who won Division Two last season and were promoted to the top division, the midfielder thought the team played well.
"We met up on Monday so only had three days of training together and Charleroi started playing together on the June 6th. This was their sixth game so they have more experience than us. We also have some new players so we weren't used to each other, but we did pretty well today."
Charleroi won by a 1-0 score line.
Boussu-Dour has a few more pre-season games lined up against Belgian opposition before a tough game against French Ligue 1 Valenciennes in the beginning of August. The new Division 2 season in Belgium kicks off on the 22nd of next month.