We spoke with Portland Timbers striker Mandjou Keita before he left for his loan assignment at Salgaocar Sport Club in India’s first division. Keita literally has a world of experience with time spent with Guinea’s U-23 National Team, Malaysia’s Perak FC, and Brunei’s DPMM FC. He also had stints in Vietnam, Kuwait, and the United Arab Emirates. His experience in India should only add to his development.
The striker is poised to play a key role in Portland’s final season in USL-1. Our sources believe Keita will likely make the move with the club into MLS. His dream of playing top-flight football in Europe is not far away if this success continues.
Keita struggled to make the transition to the American game early this season, but eventually caught fire under the expertise of Coach Gavin Wilkinson. He earned USL First Division All-league first team honors and the 2009 Supporters Player of the Year award. Keita was quick to share praise for his coaches, teammates, agent, advisors, and family.
Mandjou is proud of his time with the Guinea National Team saying “it is a dream of all players to play for their home country.” He described it as a “once in a lifetime” opportunity that he will cherish forever. His dream of playing professionally abroad motivated him to leave his home and look for other opportunities ouside of Africa. It is clear that Keita loves playing football everyday and takes nothing for granted. He lives up to the statement: “Football is my life.”
Mandjou learned a great deal in his first season of American soccer. He found the style of play to be challenging, fast, physical, and of a high quality. He said it was a very different game when compared to Africa or Europe. Africans play a very technical game despite often playing for fun, while Europeans attack in space.
He was able to score goals and even became one of the best strikers in North America by the end of the season. Eventually Keita would like to give back to the younger generations by earning his coaching badges and serving in a different capacity.