Kerala Blasters FC had a really poor outing in the last Indian Super League season and the major reason behind their woes was their poor defensive performance. The Blasters conceded a total of 32 goals -- third-most among all teams -- during the course of the league and that sums up how they allowed the opposition to dominate them in almost every match. But they are looking to address the issues this time and have taken a great step towards it by hiring the services of former Olympique Lyon defender Bakary Kone.
The 32-year-old has an experience of 15 years of professional football behind him. During this period, he has played 316 matches for various clubs across Europe and has scored 16 goals as well. Kone has also represented his country, Burkina Faso, in a total of 83 international matches and that makes him the third most capped player for his country as well.
Kone's professional career started when he moved from CFTPK Abidjan to join his hometown club Etoile Filante's youth team in 2004. The defender made rapid strides there and got promoted to make his senior team debut in the very next season (2005-06). He fully repaid the faith of the management as he put on a strong defensive display for the club and scored his first career goal as well.
However, he was destined for bigger things as his impressive performances caught the eyes of the French scouts soon. A move to French Ligue 2 team Guingamp followed at the end of the 2005-06 season. It was an association that went on to last for the next five years, and 112 games until Kone got his first big ticket to play for Ligue 1 giants Olympique Lyonnais.
It was with Lyon that Kone established himself as a major defensive force in world football. He represented them in a total of 141 matches across competitions, scoring eight times. The Burkina Faso international stayed with Lyon for the next five seasons before moving to Malaga in 2016-17 and then to Strasbourg on loan in 2017-18. Kone has spent his last two years playing in Turkey and Russia, and now he is all set to play for the Kerala Blasters in the ISL 2020/21 season.
Claim to fame
Kone won the Coupe de France twice in his career -- once while playing for Guingamp in 2009 and again with Lyon in the 2011-12 season. He was a part of Lyon's Trophee Des Champions winning team in 2012 as well. Kone was also a part of Burkina Faso's national side that made it to the final of the Africa Cup of Nations in 2013. He played every single minute in the tournament and was rightly adjudged as the player of the match in the final. Subsequently, he went on to lead his country against Angola in the qualifying rounds of the Africa Cup of Nations in 2014 as well.
What does he bring to Kerala Blasters now?
Kone brings quality, experience and depth to the Blasters backline, something they lacked in the previous season. He has played against top strikers of Europe like Zlatan Ibrahimovic and Edinson Cavani year after year and thus has developed skills to contain even the best in the world. The ISL has seen the influx of some top forwards from the A-League and La Liga in the last couple of seasons, and the Blasters will be banking on Kone to lead their defence against such threats.
Feature image courtesy: AFP / Patrick Hertzog