The elation of Josh Kennedy’s World Cup qualifying heroics has subsided and in order to press forward towards Brazil in 2014, Holger Osieck will need to address a seemingly age-old problem – finding a long-term fix at left back.
As Australia’s so-far disastrous Ashes campaign continues in England, legspinner Fawad Ahmed awaits potential injection into the squad before the fifth test. The Pakistan-born refugee was recently granted express Australian citizenship by the government after Cricket Australia presented a sturdy case that his presence would bolster the touring team. The Football Federation of Australia must consider offering the same opportunity to emerging Melbourne Victory star Adama Traore, who represented Ivory Coast at U/17, U/19 and U/20 level.
Since Scott Chipperfield’s retirement in 2010, the Socceroos have cycled through plenty of players down back – Michael Zullo, David Carney and Jason Davidson all having been trialed, with Matt McKay the current first choice. Despite spending most of his career in the midfield, the clubless 30 year-old has worked tirelessly to remould his game to benefit the national side, but he is not a natural defender. Traore’s presence would free McKay for potential use in the midfield where his skillset would undoubtedly be far more effective.
After two stellar seasons in Melbourne, the fleet-footed Ivorian has proven himself as one of the most consistent performers in the A-League. Brimming with attacking intent, the main feature of Traore’s game is his willingness to surge up the pitch through the left wing, utilizing his pace and remarkably quick ball use. Traore is imaginative with ball at feet – his through balls are dangerous and enterprising whilst his dribbling is useful when called upon. His passing game has room for improvement, as does his defensive positioning, but enthusiasm and an excellent work ethic both on and off field will see improvements in these areas, especially when around the Australian national squad. Perhaps most importantly, Traore is aware of his primary responsibility as a defender – to extinguish offensive threats with his play-reading ability and agility. He intercepts and tackles strongly and has the heart to cover the ground if caught on the counterattack.
FIFA’s eligibility rules state that a player must “naturalize” before changing national allegiances, a process of a minimum of five years of residency in a chosen country. It also declares the applicant must have a “significant connection” that ties them to their chosen nation – in Traore’s case, citizenship. Fortunately, he has been in the country permanently since 2008, playing for Gold Coast United before signing a two-year deal with Victory. Traore has indicated his eagerness to pull on the green and gold and it would be foolish to pass up the opportunity to utilize his defensive pressure, forward dash and stamina.
The government’s Special Residence Requirements Bill of 2013 allows the government to rush through citizenship for applicants who “engage in an activity that is of benefit to Australia”. Traore streaming down the left wing in the World Cup Finals would certainly satisfy that.
Image Source: Zimbio