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How some lesser-known African footballers are making a career around the world

Nigeria’s Kenneth Kerewi (once more row, 2d from right kind) has fulfilled his objectives in the South Pacific

African footballers play all over the world, with best the elite few making it into the absolute best leagues of Europe.

As a a part of this 12 months’s BBC African Footballer of the Year award, BBC Sport scoured the world to look out some of the continent’s most adventurous travellers.

KENNETH KEREWI – Nigeria and Kiwi FC (Samoa)

In his early thirties, Kenneth Kerewi had an unfulfilled dream – to play Champions League football.

Playing semi-professionally in Nigeria and working for a local church, the intrepid Nigerian considered distance to be no barrier so travelled as regards to 20,000 kilometres to get to the absolute best of his world.

Having studied the globe for somewhere to reach his serve as, Kerewi in the end found out a hole in Samoa.

“The whole thing started with my desire to play in a continental Champions League but the only place open for such a chance was the Oceania Champions League,” the 35-year-old knowledgeable BBC Sport.

“Going through the clubs playing, I found Kiwi FC from Samoa as one of the participating teams. So I got in talks with the Kiwi FC president who was keen on wanting foreign players to come and play.”

Kenneth Kerewi has travelled as regards to 20,000 kilometres to play Champions League football

The president would now not pay for Kerewi’s flight – this means that the Nigerian overlooked Kiwi FC’s 2016 Champions League advertising marketing campaign then again he arrived in June 2016 then again, after in any case sourcing some budget.

Earlier this 12 months, Kerewi’s objectives were given right here true – at the unheralded Loto-Tonga Soka Centre in Tonga.

It wasn’t for Kiwi FC then again while on loan with Utulei Youth, a team in American Samoa whose Oceania Champions League qualifier against Lupe Ole Soaga attracted merely 100 spectators.

Nonetheless, Kerewi was living the dream – scoring two instances as he carried out the whole 90 minutes.

“It was such a great feeling. I can never forget scoring on my continental Champions League debut – and not just scoring but scoring the most fantastic goal of the first stage of the OFC Champions League. I scored direct from a corner.”

He describes the South Pacific island as a “paradise” which he has no plans to go away and now he can boast Champions League football on his CV – and now not merely during one advertising marketing campaign.

For next season’s Champions League, reigning Samoan identify winners Lupe Ole Soaga – the team against whom he scored – have asked him to play for them.

ARISTIDE BANCE – Burkina Faso and Al Masry (Egypt)

Burkina Faso international Aristide Bance is African football’s type of Marco Polo.

Since breaking by means of at Ivorian club Stade d’Abidjan in 2000, the 33-year-old has carried out at 20 different golfing apparatus – incorporating spells in (massive breath!) Burkina Faso, Belgium, Ukraine, Germany, Dubai, Qatar, Turkey, Finland, Kazakhstan, South Africa, Latvia and, latterly, Egypt.

In north Africa however, the position he’s participating in for Al Masry, regarded as one among African football’s cult heroes is encountering a new revel in.

“It’s a shame that matches here are played behind closed doors at the moment – for security reasons,” he outlined. “It would be really super if the supporters could come back into the stadiums.”

Since the Port Said disaster of 2012 – which was then followed thru a deadly stampede in 2015 – most football suits in Egypt have taken place without enthusiasts.

Aristide Bance says he models his hairstyle on his idol – former France international Djibril Cisse

Meanwhile, Bance’s pointers for bedding into a new club appear easy to use.

“I think humility is important and it’s necessary to stay simple and respect others,” mentioned a striker who helped Burkina Faso be successful of their first Africa Cup of Nations final in 2013.

However, he admits the endless travelling comes at a value.

“I really miss my country,” he mentioned. “I am here for work – that’s what being a professional is. One is obliged to leave friends, brothers and family to go and play.”

MEMORY PHIRI – Zambia and South Western Oklahoma University (United States)

Since she was small, Memory Phiri wanted to be a footballer – then again like such a lot of, her folks wanted her to test as a replace.

“At some point, I told myself that this was what I wanted to do in life so I just started playing football, forgetting about everything my parents were telling me,” the 19-year-old knowledgeable BBC Sport.

“Football is much more than a sport for me. It’s my life.”

After the teenager carried out for her high school in Lusaka, she briefly earned a place in a club side and in the finish a place in trials for Zambia’s inaugural ladies’s Under-17 side.

“I was a little bit nervous and didn’t know what to expect, but I told myself ‘I can do this’,” she added.

“I did my best and was selected for a tournament in Sweden. The best game I ever played in my life was the debut I had in Sweden, when I scored a bicycle kick. As soon as I came back, I received a call-up for the Under-17 World Cup qualifiers.”

Phiri says she was motivated to play football thru former Brazil giant identify Marta

Soon after, the midfielder was participating in at the 2014 World Cup itself in Costa Rica – turning out in all three video video games as Zambia won one game on its fit debut.

“Representing my country at World Cup level is the best experience that has ever happened in my life,” added Phiri.

The Zambian has since made her way to the United States, the position she is participating in at school degree for South Western Oklahoma University and hoping to pursue a career in the professional game.

After that, she plans to curtail her globetrotting and grow to be a doctor.

“Before coming here, I promised the world I would get a degree in sports medicine and help a lot of African athletes back home who have injuries and cannot get back on the field.”

SALOGO BABA SOUMAILA – Burkina Faso and Londrina (Brazil)

Salogo has swapped Burkina Faso for Brazil in the hope of making it in Europe

African footballers would perhaps play all over the world then again South America has been a little-used continental springboard for lots of.

Notable exceptions include Cameroon’s Geremi, a two-time African champion who found out his way to Real Madrid by way of the use of Paraguay, while Uganda captain Ibrahim Sekagya solid his career in Argentina (2001-2007) faster than making it in Europe.

Now, little-known Burkinabe Salogo Soumaila, 19, is trying to do the similar, having joined Brazilian 2d division side Londrina ultimate 12 months.

“I came here because people say Brazilians are the strongest players in the world, so I said to myself: ‘Why not take up the challenge?’” he knowledgeable BBC Sport.

To create a career to use Africa’s biggest football stars, Soumaila’s journey is further evidence that Africans are in a position to travel to the ends of the earth on the lookout for that dream.

“My hope is to have a good season and secure a big deal with a European club. My contribution to African football is very important for me because through that, I think I can be known throughout the world.”

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