Ismaël Koné and Kei Kamara made the pair in the victory against Fire


Simon Servant, The Canadian Press

MONTREAL — Ismaël Koné was just four years old when Kei Kamara made his MLS debut, but the two bonded as if they’d known each other for years on Tuesday night.

CF Montreal was able to count on several good performances during their 3-2 victory against the Chicago Fire, but Kamara and Koné grabbed the attention by regularly cutting the opposing defense into pieces.

Kamara, 38, turned almost everything in his spell into gold against the Fire and he had two goals and an assist. Koné, 20, was credited with an assist and he should have even had a second on his record.

When Kamara signed with the Bleu-blanc-noir a few weeks before the start of the season, head coach Wilfried Nancy wondered if the Sierra Leonean forward would join the ranks. Eight goals and seven assists later, the least we can say is that his presence greatly helps the team’s cause and it shows on the pitch.

“It’s easy to play when Kei is there. He has experience and he is our big brother here. On the pitch, he is a leader and he motivates us, Koné said. Of course for me, as a midfielder, it’s easy to play with him because he is constantly moving. This is very fun. »

Koné, who set the table for Kamara’s two goals, was eager to find the Fire. During the Montrealers’ visit to Chicago on August 27, he scored a superb goal before picking up two yellow cards, which turned red, which forced the referee to eject him from the game.

Koné had only played 24 minutes since that incident and had missed two of his club’s last three games.

« Of course I had a bitter taste because I couldn’t finish the game in Chicago. I was on a good run, but they cut my legs off, he said. It is sure that I had a small feeling of revenge.

And this feeling was perceptible, even through the rain that fell on the Saputo stadium field. During the game, Koné was particularly efficient with his passes, completing nearly 91 percent of them. He served several quality balls and he put his opponents on their heels.

Two weeks ago, rumors sent him to Sheffield United, an English club that plays in the second division. The transfer did not materialize and the young Canadian remained in Montreal, where he is considered one of the best prospects for the team.

Nancy and her coaching staff have been very pedagogical since taking over the reins of CF Montreal and they have found ways to get the most out of players who find themselves in a difficult situation or young people, like Koné.

“Ishmael, he’s only been with us for a year and a half and he’s living his life on the fast track. You have to find tools to help him be consistent, because he showed great things, observed Nancy. He is going up and he wants to learn. If he manages to continue to mature as he does now, he has a great career ahead of him. My job, and that of my staff, is to help him achieve excellence.”

Excellence notably requires an invitation to the Canadian team for the Men’s Soccer World Cup, which will get under way in just over two months.

Koné played two games for Canada in the World Cup soccer qualifier in March for a total of 55 minutes. Perhaps his performance against the Fire will have succeeded in convincing head coach John Herdman.

« I don’t know John’s plans, but for sure it would be a goal for me to be part of the camp. There are only two left before the World Cup and it would be good for me to participate, “said Koné.

Kamara also had the opportunity to play with Alphonso Davies, another promising Canadian, when he played for the Vancouver Whitecaps in 2018. At that time, Davies was already considered the future star of the unifoliate.

Asked if there were any similarities between Koné and Davies, Kamara remained cautious.

“When I spent time with ‘Phonzie’ it was amazing to see how ready he was to go to another level. It is the same with Ishmael. He works hard to make sure we give him as much confidence as possible so he can produce for us. We are focusing on that right now,” said the veteran.

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