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From an Unknown to a Record Breaker–Meet Pape Ba, the Striker Setting the Senegalese League Alight

Fans watched him mouth-gaped as though he were an astronaut back to earth from space fresh with moon dust.

His teammates’ turn came on the night he scooped the league’s golden boot at an end of the season awards event, as they whistled in amazement when the master of ceremonies revealed that he’d rewritten the domestic league single player record for goals. A deadly grenade on his day, is no wonder why former Metz forward Amara Traore now coach, extolled him as the best there’s in the Senegalese Premier League. Step forward, Pape Ibnou Ba.

It has never happened anywhere for an end of the season Senegalese league best scorer to trial out abroad without signing a contract. It happened to Pape.

He sealed a trial chance with an undisclosed Egyptian top tier outfit but, unexpectedly, got waived and asked to try elsewhere prompting his return to Dakar. That low will be a scratch he wouldn’t savor on his impressive CV but won’t certainly be losing sleep over it with his impressive season goal feat of more relevance, and, a telling reminder to all doubters.

His walk to the limelight is one well documented. Plucked from the streets by a scouring club scout, ASC Linguere became his first stop and the first to get a taste of his inimitable qualities.

Rising through the club’s ranks to the A-team platform, the 23-year-old stamped his mark under coach Grand Fall’s tutelage, whom he strongly credits for his current status as the attacker most clamored for by sides within the division. Five months to the season he became a big hit, Pape was an unknown quality. Easy to dismiss by first look, owing to his tiny frame in a league littered with mammoth towers for defenders, Ibnou, unperturbed, let his feet do the talking.

pape Ibou receiving his golden boot award at at an end of season  Banquet

Pape receiving the league’s golden boot

Comparing him to serial goal scorer Real Madrid’s Cristiano Ronaldo, for a talent who’s yet to break the boundaries beyond Senegalese frontiers, might best be fitted as exaggeration of the highest order but Ba can peel off goals with virtually his left or right leg, head and even bottom.

The mention of the last phrase might leave one in wonderment as to how defenders could let a striker score a degrading goal using his bottom. But with Pape you can expect the unexpected. And he proved this. Against AS Douanes (The Customs), he theatrically out-jumped his marker in the penalty box to meet an inswing teasing cross with his back turned to the ball which bounced of his backside, beating a stunned Douanes net-minder in goal.

His grandest career goal for a league campaign, Ba made sure it was a memorable one peppering his run of games with 17 goals, ending AS Jaaraf Ibrahim Diop’s 16-goal season feat as the highest ever poacher of goals in Senegal’s Ligue1.

[perfectpullquote align=”full” cite=”” link=”” color=”” class=”” size=””]”Yes, he’s matured and he has the talent to take the step towards a professional career. It would be good if he is transferred to a club where he will face less pressure and to learn and be able to familiarize himself with a new environment,”[/perfectpullquote]

ex-Taranga Lions gaffer Amara Traore, currently coach of Guinean club Horoyaa AC, says of the forward, suggesting he moves abroad to test his potentials.

That suggestion was heeded to with Pape getting a trial chance in Egypt before returning to join Stade de Mbour, a decision that came much as a shock to admirers. Followers of the goal-getter had expected transfer to a European club but it appeared the star fell out with ASC Linguere amid riffed reports the bitter row with the club management forced him to engineer a move to south of Dakar,  to join Mbour.

Failure to secure him a club in Europe as reportedly agreed in his contract is believed to have triggered the rancor, a claim the player’s later rebutted.

[perfectpullquote align=”full” cite=”” link=”” color=”” class=”” size=””]”I moved to Mbour because I like new challenges and I think the Mbour project is challenge worth of the go. There has been basically no problems between me and them (Linguere),”[/perfectpullquote]

he said in defence of his rather contentious move.

Despite all the brouhaha over why he hasn’t switched continents, Pape dubbed Petite, has his head focused on the two-game old new season but remains buoyed about moving to Europe in the future.

“I thank the Good Lord who made me the top scorer of the championship. I leave it to him for my future. Whether it is here or in Europe, I will rely on the will of God, but my ambition is to help my club and move forward, “he said.

Mbour’s coach wouldn’t get bothered over fears of his new signing becoming a disappointing flop with Pape a proven goal scorer. On a bad in office, you can at least be sure of an assist with his15 goal assist –the highest in the division – a testament.


Featured Photo: Courtesy of SUNU FOOT


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