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Bubacarr Trawally: Chinese Super League Good Level for African Players

INTERVIEW–Bubacarr is resigned to the confines of his room sighing from the daily dose of yet another workout session. His mind is assailed by thoughts of helping Yanbian Funde –a province team in the Chinese Super League – stay up the division after winning promotion from the second tier the previous season.

Rich with stark of cash, the Super League is fast rising but is yet to break free from labeling of it being retirement home for footballers who’ve long waned. There’s an element of truth in this sarcastic comment. Super League clubs, armed with embarrassment of riches, are busy outdoing each other signing high profile players, most of whom plucked from the EPL or Bundesliga and tied them down to monster multi-million dollar contracts.

The strategy has helped turn the football world’s attention to the Chinese league and yield clubs huge following through shirt sales. This fund-generating oriented devised plan has its shortcomings one of it being a shift in focus from grooming home grown talent with majority marquee signings known to be over-thirty, result of which provides little room for upcoming local lads, African players included.

But Bubacarr Trawally popularly known by his sobriquet Steve, begs to differ. While frowning over the ridiculous sums splashed in the conundrum of purchasing ‘big name stars’ when half the price could secure number of good young African players, the 21-year-old insists the Super League can be good a level for African players if offered the chance.

[perfectpullquote align=”full” cite=”” link=”” color=”” class=”” size=””]“The Chinese Super League or even League One is a good place for African players and I will always happily recommend the clubs in the Super League or League One and Two to sign African players particularly from The Gambia! Believe me, there is a lot of talent back home”[/perfectpullquote]

[perfectpullquote align=”full” cite=”” link=”” color=”” class=”” size=””]“What they just need is the chance to showcase themselves. I know it will be difficult hence all the teams here like signing “big name” players but why waste a huge amount of money on some of those players when you can have a young and skillful African player who can deliver a lot more for half the amount you pay getting that “big name”?[/perfectpullquote]

Steve has every reason to believe so. Himself, an untried talent in 2014, was one of few with luck dose to get offered to trial at Hangzhou Green Town. Local club Real de Banjul came in for much derides for daring to jettison off a talent of Bubacar’s magnitude to Asia for a certain Green Town side, whose standing, in the eye of local Gambian fans, is too low for the erstwhile Gambia U-20 playmaker.

Real were stuck at a corner. Previous attempts by the player without success to break into European football added to the equation. So when Green Town tested the capital-based outfit’s resolve with a neat offer, the local club understandably let go of their prized possession.

Trawally signed the dotted lines on a long term contract but wasn’t deemed ripe for immediate use by coaches and got shooed out of the loan door. Yanbian, an only club in Yanj, home to over 400,000 ethnic Korean situated in East of China, won over the Gambian.

Like a caged leopard released to savour its freedom, Trawally turned a big fish in the pond banging goals for fun. Raking up 17 goals, missing out on the League One golden boot by few goals, Steve was on the lips of fans and indeed for the right reasons, becoming the highest scoring black player in The Tiger’s history.

His 17-goal, a career high one of which classed under the Rabona Goal Hall of Fame, secured Yanbian promotion to the cash-rich Super League.

The lanky spaghetti-legged stylish attacker was, under contractual agreed terms, expected to return to parent club Hangzhou Greentown Football Club at elapse of his 12-month loan deal.

However, incessant campaign including petitions to Yanbian’s board by fans, seeking the side permanently sign the former Samger star, meant a planned return to Zhejiang never saw light of day. The chairman budged and Steve was to continue a Tiger’s player after The Reds bought out remainder of his contract from Green Town.

Today, he has a two-year deal left of his three-year contract expiring December 2018.

On season of his switch to China Bubacarr was the Gambian’s league’s Most Valuable Player and one year since turning pro, he’d scored 27 goals including his ten in top tier this recently concluded season.

Comparing the Gambian league back home to China’s top division, he ventured: ‘I think the Chinese league is more physical than the Gambian league. Our league back home is not bad but most of the players there play without the basic knowledge of football. Only few play in a tactical way and that’s one thing keeping our game behind and the reasons why some players, there, find it hard to turn professional.’

‘You tend to have more bruises and knocks in China. You know the league is improving due to foreign imports but a lot of defenders are Chinese and you always get knocked down by them when you beat them or even the keepers!

“I used to beat players back home in Gambia and get stopped but now, I can tell you it’ll be easy for me to beat and dribble the entire pitch to go score just because of what I’ve been taught by professional coaches here. I’m not perfect though as I’m still learning my trade! ”

His last comment might border arrogance but a positive one that is found in silky natured players with his ten goals, the fourth highest scoring African in SL this year, a glaring manifestation.

[perfectpullquote align=”full” cite=”” link=”” color=”” class=”” size=””]”My goal target for this season was 10 but you know this is my first year in Chinese Super League. It’s not an easy league. I’m sure many people back home are surprised why I didn’t score a lot of goals but they shouldn’t be. This isn’t an easy league and I’m still learning my trade. So, hopefully, if I stay in the country and league for next season, I’m positive my stats will improve.”[/perfectpullquote]

This might unsettle the club’s gaffer and cause fans to cringe at any hint of their ‘hero’ possibly joining another outfit. That though is no longer a matter of if rather when with a bombardment of interest from clubs in the starlet. However there’s no concrete proposal on the table yet.

“I cannot 100% say what clubs are interested in me because all I get is hearsay from people here and my teammates. All I hear is Tianjin Teda, Shanghai SIPG, just to name a few but I can honestly tell you I haven’t been personally approached by any of the clubs and my agent hasn’t also told me. My doors though are open and we will see what the future holds’ he tells me from China.

This week, he’s expected to fly to Gambia to begin his post-season break –a needed breather to freshen up ahead of the start of pre-season in January.


Featured Photo: Courtesy of Bubacarr Trawally Twitter’s page

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