Best player

CityPress - - Sport - –

“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.

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