ABIOLA DAUDA says his fitness is improving rapidly as he prepares for two crucial games in four days with Hearts.
The Nigerian striker scored twice in a 30-minute cameo against Ross County on Wednesday and believes he is getting stronger by the day.
Partick Thistle visit Tynecastle tomorrow on league business before Hearts cross Edinburgh to face Hibs at Easter Road in Tuesday’s Scottish Cup fifth-round replay. Dauda is eager to be involved in both matches, although he may need to settle for part of the 90 minutes tomorrow.
He arrived on loan from Vitesse Arnhem last week but hadn’t played a full match for several months. Having faced Hibs on Sunday and opened his scoring account in the Highlands, he reported vast progress in his physical condition.
“I think the fitter I get, the more sharper I will be, the more I will be able to play with my instinct; the more I will be able to play without thinking too much. That way I will be able to do whatever comes along,” he said today.
“I feel I am getting better and better now and I think the way we play with pace is also good for me to help my conditioning. In Holland, you pass and pass and keep the ball and you can have a rest. Here, you don’t have a lot of time and that suits me and my way of playing.
“Scottish football isn’t really all that different to the way it is in Scandinavia,” continued the 28-year-old, who spent six years in Sweden with Solvesborgs and Kalmar. “I played in Sweden before so I am used to the physical game and the long balls and everything. It is different from Holland, of course. I just need to play a few more games and switch my thinking back to the way it was.”
Dauda thanked the Hearts fans who welcomed him instantly following his arrival. He also explained his two impressive finishes in Hearts’ 3-0 win over County.
“I didn’t really think too much about it [the first goal]. I wanted to cut inside and take a shot but I saw the space between the defender’s legs and I was confident the goalkeeper wouldn’t get there.
“It was a risk I took. If I got it through the defender’s legs I knew it would go in. If I didn’t, it would have been a cheeky shot. I took the risk and I was really happy it turned out to be a good goal.
“I’m really happy for the supporters. They have given me great backing, not just here but also in the derby. I’m pleased I have been able to help the team and I am thankful for their support.
“When I came here I had a good feeling when I met with the coach. When I trained with the lads, I could see the quality in the team. There are young lads here but there is also a lot of experience. I think it is a good side. I think the future is bright.”
Dauda revealed his derby debut on Sunday took his breath away but was grateful for a 30-minute appearance and two goals in Dingwall.
“I had not played at that intensity for quite a while,” he said of the Scottish Cup tie.
“Before I came here, I was only getting 20 minutes here and 15 minutes there, so for me to play in the derby was great. I was looking forward to it. I just had to do all I could and whenever the gas was finished it was finished. It turned out the gas was finished after 60 minutes or so! I pushed myself a lot and now I have had another 30 minutes. I can feel myself getting better and better.”