Ivorian playmaker Zakri joined Sundowns to ‘win the Fifa Club World Cup’

09 September 2016 - 14:16 By Marc Strydom

Mamelodi Sundowns’ new Ivorian playmaker Yannick Zakri joined the club because he believes they have the ambition to win the Fifa Club World Cup. Zakri‚ 25‚ moved from Abidjan giants Asec Mimosas‚ where he was a product of that club’s famed academy‚ in late August.The playmaker impressed for Asec in this year’s Caf Champions League – in which Sundowns have reached the semifinals – scoring three goals‚ including a powerful long-range strike in a 2-1 win against Egyptian giants Al Ahly in Cairo.Asec eventually finished bottom of Group A despite that result.Zakri said SA clubs’ recent results in continental competitions – Orlando Pirates reached the 2013 Champions League and 2015 Confederation Cup finals – and Sundowns’ performance this year convinced him to join the Patrice Motsepe’s globally ambitious Downs.“I wanted to join the champions of South Africa. And my ambition now is to win the league in South Africa‚ and then also the Champions League‚” Zakri said‚ speaking through his Ivorian teammate at Downs‚ Soumahoro Bangaly‚ as an interpreter.“I also want to play in the Club World Cup and try to win it. That’s one of my ambitions – to play in that tournament and win it.“I believe Sundowns are a club with the ambition to be able to do that.”Muscular Bangaly has preceded Zakri at the Brazilians by a season‚ and played a crucial late role in the club’s 2015-16 league title‚ and in them progressing past Group B in the Champions League‚ playing alongside Hlompo Kekana in central midfield.Lithe‚ mobile Zakri is more an attacking playmaker capable of eliminating defenders and shooting from close or long range.Zakri has arrived too late to be registered for this year’s Champions League‚ where Downs meet Zambian club Zesco United in this month’s home-and-away semifinal‚ but has ambitions to play for the Brazilians in the continental showpiece next year.Zakri and Bangaly have followed in the footsteps of the another highly respected Asec product and Elephants international to have played two seasons at Downs in the 2000s‚ the later Paris Saint-Germain left-back Siaka Tiene.“If Siaka Tiene played at Sundowns‚ it means it’s a big club‚ and this is a big league. That’s why I wanted to follow him‚ to also put my name at this great team‚” Zakri said.“For me‚ South Africa’s league is the biggest in Africa. There are good players here.“For me this was my premier destination‚ before even Europe. I want to play here first‚ play very well‚ and win trophies.”Zakri said communication with Downs coach Pitso Mosimane so far has been at a minimum‚ as the player grapples with learning to speak English.“I still don’t speak English‚ so it’s been a bit difficult. But I have started learning and am learning more every day‚” he said.Reports from the Egyptian press are that Asec accepted an offer of R5-million from Sundowns for Zakri‚ who had also been linked to Cairo giants Zamalek. - TMG Sport..

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