SANTA CLARA, Calif. - Junior Jalil Anibaba is a strong asset for the Santa Clara men's soccer team. As the center defender for the Broncos, Anibaba was third on the team in points last season.
Anibaba shared his experiences with the U.S. National Team, his role as a leader on the team and his lack of wakeboarding skills.
SCU: How has your experience with the U.S. National Team at the Pan American Games helped you progress as a player?
JA: My time with the US National Team was extremely humbling and the experiences I gained while representing the US mainly helped me understand what it takes to perform at a high level.
SCU: You are listed as a midfielder but you spend much of your time defensively. Talk about your role on the team?
JA: For the majority of my time here at Santa Clara my role has been to establish a defensive line that keeps the ball out of the net. Since we play with four players in the back, my primary job as a central defender is to organize my teammates in front of me, while doing the dirty work when necessary.
SCU: You have a fairly young team. Talk about how your role as a leader has changed now that you are a junior.
JA: Although we are the young side, we possess unique talent within our group. My job as a leader is to make sure that we are ready to compete at a high level every time we step on the field. With that being said, I do not feel that since I am junior my role as a leader has changed. It remains a role of recognizing how we as a team can achieve our goals and affecting our team in a way that allows us to perform according.
SCU: What did you work on during the offseason? As a team? Individually?
JA: As a team there are strict limits as to what we can do over the summer, but for the most part the major goal for the group during the offseason is to get as many games in as possible. With that being said, many of our players, including myself, are playing with teams all over the country to maintain game shape. Individually I have been working on my defensive heading as well as my speed and agility.
SCU: Where are you playing soccer this summer?
JA: I am currently playing for the PSA Storm in Los Gatos.
SCU: What did you think of the Confederation Cup match between the US and Brazil?
JA: Even though the US lost the match to Brazil I thought our nation's performances in the final as well as in the semi-final match against Spain were great for soccer in the US. The team's performance showed that we can compete with and even beat the best and that has been a lingering debate for quite some time now. Lastly, the National Team's recent success has come at a good time, but when it matters most is the World Cup and it will be more exciting then ever to see how the US does next summer in South Africa.
SCU: Who is your favorite soccer player past and present?
JA: My favorite soccer player of the past goes by the name of Jay-Jay Okocha. He is a former Nigerian soccer star who was famous for his phenomenal dribbling ability.
As for the present it is a toss up between Messi and Puyol.
SCU: Who is your favorite soccer team?
JA: My favorite soccer team in FC Barcelona.
SCU: Where is the coolest place you have traveled to play soccer?
JA: The coolest place I have traveled to play soccer is by far Rio De Janeiro, Brazil for the 2007 Pan American Games.
SCU: If you could play any other sport than soccer, what would it be?
JA: If I could do any other sport other than soccer it would have to be wake boarding because it is safe to say that my wake boarding abilities are below sub-par.