NAIROBI, Kenya, Jul 12- Everton FC’s Congolese winger Yannick Bolasie believes it is just a matter of time before Europe’s top leagues are graced with more African stars, saying the standard of the game in the continent has been on the trajectory over the past few years.
Bolasie, speaking to Capital Sport on Wednesday afternoon after Everton touched down in Tanzania for a friendly match against Kenya’s Gor Mahia believes that the hard work put in by African players will not go unnoticed.
“Definitely in the coming years, we will have big players from Africa. Probably not even in my generation but probably in the next five years, we will have more stars because the foundation is being built slowly. The good thing is they are now emerging every day,” the winger said.
He adds that African footballers are now getting more experienced with handling life on the fast lane in Europe and they are adapting to better and most recent skills and techniques, something that has began to give them an edge.
He has also challenged current players to instill the same experience they are getting to younger players back at home.
“For me when I have to go back to Congo I have to instill in them that spirit and show them they can also make it, be an example and a shining light to them. We can open up more doors,” he noted.
Bolasie has had a tough last eight months as he has been out after picking up a serious cruciate knee ligament injury during Everton’s 1-1 draw with Manchester United last December and has described that period as one of the toughest.
“To be honest it has been very difficult but I am happy that I am where I am today. Sometimes I feel sad because I feel I would have made a difference in the team if I was there and maybe we would have finished in a better position,” Bolasie narrates.
“But now, that is behind my back. I am working hard on my rehab and possible I will be back to action in three months. It is still a long way to go but looking back at where I have come from, I am happy. It is unfortunate that I will miss the world Cup qualifiers but coming back, I will be a stronger player,” added the Congolese.
Meanwhile, Bolasie is confident Everton can cope without Romelu Lukaku who has left to join Manchester United while at the same time tipping one of his best friends to succeed with Jose Mourinho’s men just like he did with Everton last season.
“I am 100 percent sure that he will do well. I mean his mentality and approach is very positive. I am around him most of the time and we talk and I know he is looking forward to the challenge and I know he will work hard to achieve big things.”
Lukaku’s departure was met with a high profile arrival, Wayne Rooney moving the opposite direction to join his boyhood club after 17 years. Bolasie believes the arrival of Rooney plus a host of other new boys is testament enough of Everton’s ambition this season.
“Last season we finished seventh and now we expect to do better with the players we have brought into the team. Personally I hope I can give the best performance when I come back from injury,” he says.
On Rooney; “We know Rooney and his abilities and I am looking forward to playing alongside him. When you play together with a player who has the ability of picking you out with ease then it makes things better. Time and again when I am playing I always feel like I have to go up against two people but with someone like Rooney who can hit you a one-time pass, it becomes quite interesting.”
He has been included in Ronald Koeman’s squad of the first ever Everton team to come to Africa for pre-season and that for him is a great thing.
Bolasie as well as Senegalese international Idrissa Gana Gueye, English Under-20 starlet Olamola Lookman and left back Leighton Baines spent their first day in Tanzania with disabled kids from the Uhuru Primary School in Dar es Salaam.
They not only took time to mingle with the overjoyed kids but also get to know them and had an opportunity to play blind roll ball with the school team.
“It is awesome and I think it makes me feel great. The support we have had here is incredible and I think this will make me want to go back and work harder because now I know I represent the continent and I want to do well for Africa,” the midfielder added.
-Timothy Olobulu is reporting from Dar-