“My coach at Lille had kept me because they needed me domestically. After that I vowed to do everything I could to help my team-mates in the World Cup.”
Traoré finished the tournament in New Zealand having been involved in seven of his team’s 11 goals, scoring four and setting up a further three, so it’s maybe no surprise that he ended up with the premier individual honour.
Traoré equalised with a wonderful free kick against the Lion Cubs of Teranga and then put his team ahead with a right-footed pile-driver after some nifty footwork. An assist for his country’s third goal rounded off a decisive display. “I had a good match,” the midfield powerhouse said afterwards – an understatement if ever there was one.
“We gave everything. We really wanted to claim third place. We knew that it wasn’t going to be an easy match – playing against another African country is never straightforward. Senegal knew all about us.”
The tournament was full of surprises and late drama was a fitting conclusion.
Serbia, playing in the World Cup for the first time as an independent nation, left as champions while five-time champions Brazil settled for silver.
That was the remarkable outcome after a dramatic and enthralling final day of action that thrilled a sellout, 25 000-plus crowd at Auckland’s North Harbour Stadium in New Zealand yesterday.