Will Africa's new Olympic goal hero end up at West Ham?
Connor Jipps analyses reported West Ham United target Pape Moussa Konate.
Africa have yet again produced a striker who has taken the Olympic football tournament by storm. Four years ago Victor Obinna’s three tournament goals helped to push Nigeria to the final of the tournament where they were beaten by Argentina. Eight years previously Cameroon had upset the odds to win Gold in a penalty shootout against Spain with Patrick Mboma a key part of that team contributing four goals to the cause along the way.
This tournament hasn’t bucked the trend and we are seeing the emergence of Senegal’s Pape Moussa Konate in the absence of Demba Ba and Papiss Demba Cisse, both not selected for the tournament. Many British fans breathed a huge sigh of relief at the news that the two Newcastle hitmen would be unavailable, but Konate has taken his chance to step up with aplomb.
Playing out in Israel, Konate has avoided much of the hype despite maintaining a solid, if not spectacular scoring record of 1 goal per 4 games at club level. Hardly eye-catching stats but his all round game has contributed heavily to Maccabi Tel Aviv’s style of play. Clearly his performances alerted the Senegal selectors to his talent, not only for the Olympic squad but also the National team where he has already picked up three international caps with one goal to his name.
Looking at Konate, it’s hard to believe that the lad is just 19 years of age. Blessed physically beyond his years, his strength and athleticism have proved that age can really be just a number. Confidence seems to be another trait of the youngster with his goal against Team GB in particular showing a deft touch to finish, often difficult under the high pressures of professional football.
Senegal’s rambunctious and high energy performances have already slayed Uruguay, a key contributor in knocking out one of the pre-tournament favourites. One nil up thanks to Konate’s quick reactions to tap in an opener but down to ten men after the dismissal of Abdoulaye Ba, Konate kept plugging away up top and got his just rewards when he took advantage of poor defending to double his nations lead with a pinpoint header. Goals against Team GB and UAE have taken the Senegal striker to the top of the scoring charts with a total of four goals, attracting the interest of a host of Premier League clubs.
Having watched Konate closely, he seems to be the sort of player who could definitely acclimatise to the Premier League and become a very good player under the right manager. His physical prowess would certainly interest the more powerful league sides such as Stoke City and Sunderland, but his all round game would also make him a good fit for the likes of Tottenham and Liverpool, with both sides currently lacking an out and out striker. Links with West Ham seem to be unfounded but should Andy Carroll’s loan move break down you can be certain that Big Sam will want to make an enquiry.
People will always criticise the Olympic football tournament for being of a poor standard for international football but occasionally a star shines through. If Konate can avoid letting the hype to go to his head, we could be seeing a future superstar.