ACCRINGTON Stanley’s Rommy Boco is basking in the sun in Brazil but he says it is all work and no play as he looks ahead to the African Cup of Nations.
The 22-year-old left Accrington on Christmas Day and jetted over to Tunisia before training began in 38 degrees in Brazil on January 2 as his country Benin prepare for the huge competition.
"It is too hot," said Frenchman Boco, who qualifies for Benin through his father.
"But we have been working really hard and training hard."
It is a long way from competing in League Two to being thrust onto the world stage against Africa’s top stars but Boco is just taking it all in his stride.
Benin are the vast underdogs for the 16 country competition in Ghana - and face what has been billed the "Group of Death" as, apart from Benin, there are three tipped as Cup winners in Group B.
Benin will come up against Mali, who they played in the qualifiers and topped their group, on Monday 21 January.
Mali boast Sevilla striker Frederic Kanoute who is one of the five candidates for the BBC African Footballer of the Year award.
Then it is Didier Drogba’s Ivory Coast on Friday, January 25 with the Chelsea star hoping to overcome a knee injury to face Boco and co.
The Elephants have a host of Premiership names including Chelsea’s Salomon Kalou and Arsenal’s Kolo Toure in their line-up and they will be looking to go one better after they lost on penalties to Egypt in the final in 2006.
Benin’s final group game is against one of the favourites Nigeria on Tuesday 29 January.
The Super Eagles are managed by ex-Scotland boss Berti Vogts and have Chelsea’s John Obi Mikel and Newcastle’s Obafemi Martins among their rank,
But Boco, along with his Squirrels’ team-mates, thinks his side will show the rest of the African nations that they are a force to be reckoned with and other country’s will under-estimate then at their peril.
"I think it is a good group draw for us," said Boco, who captained the side in their first and only venture into the Cup of Nations in 2004, where they lost every match.
"We have nothing to lose and we want to do our best for our counry.
"We have no big name players like Didier Drogba or Kolo Toure but we have been together four or five years and have kept progressing.
"Many play in the French League, some in Germany, another in Portugal and all over.
"I am the only one who plays in England but hopefully, by the end of the tournament, people will hear more about us.
"The ambition of every country is to get into the quarter-finals.
"We had to put in big performances to qualify so hopefully we can carry on with the same kind of performances."
The Benin players are no strangers to big occasions.
They turned out against Samuel Eto’o’s Cameroon in front of 80,000 people in a World Cup qualifier where the atmosphere was electric after Benin took the lead - but they eventually lost 2-1.
And when they beat Sierra Leone in October to qualify for this year’s African Cup of Nations final, 200,000 people lined the streets of Benin and filled the national stadium to pay tribute to their heroes.
The players received about £5,000 each for reaching the finals from the Benin government and there is more on offer if the tiny West African country can progress further.
They have recently got a new manager in German Reinhard Fabisch who is hoping to upset a few stars in Ghana later this month.
"It is exciting and we can’t wait for the tournament to start now," added Boco.
* STANLEY fans can follow Boco’s progress - although he may be in the unfamiliar role of right back - on BBC interactive. All the games will be shown live with highlights on BBC3.