Arouna Koné: Wikis

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Arouna Koné
Personal information
Date of birth 11 November 1983 (1983-11-11) (age 26)
Place of birth Ányama, Cote d'Ivoire
Height 6 ft 0 in (1.83 m)
Playing position Striker
Club information
Current club Hannover 96
Number 18
Youth career
0000–2002 Rio Sport d'Ányama
Senior career*
Years Team Apps (Gls)
2002–2003 Lierse 32 (11)
2003–2005 Roda JC 63 (28)
2005–2007 PSV 53 (21)
2007– Sevilla 39 (1)
2010– Hannover 96 (loan) 1 (1)
National team
2004– Cote d'Ivoire 34 (9)
* Senior club appearances and goals counted for the domestic league only and correct as of 6 February 2010.

† Appearances (Goals).

‡ National team caps and goals correct as of 22 November 2007

Arouna Koné (born 11 November 1983, in Ányama, Côte d'Ivoire) is an Ivorian football striker who currently plays for Hannover 96 on loan from Sevilla FC[1] of the Spanish La Liga.

Contents

Career

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The early years

Koné was born in Ányama, a suburb of the Côte d'Ivoire capital Abidjan, to a family of ten brothers and five sisters. Like many other youths, he learned football on the streets, having the desire to play professionally, although his father reportedly wanted him to concentrate on his schooling. Arouna's father died when he was nine, and his mother gave her assent to his footballing aspirations, with him joining the youth ranks of local club Rio Sport d'Ányama. This is in contrast to many successful Ivorian footballers, who, including his brother Bakari, were products of the youth system at capital city club ASEC Abidjan. With Koné proving a success at Rio Sport, he stopped his schooling at the age of 16 to concentrate on his football development, and his contribution to the team helped gain promotion to the leagues top division, having been added to the first team squad at the age of 17. French club RC Lens invited him for a trial in 2002, but he experienced personal difficulties with the management, and instead transferred to Belgian club Lierse S.K. a month later, following a trial match. Arouna settled in well at Lierse, becoming good friends with team-mate and fellow Ivorian Adolphe Tohoua, who had also come to Belgium from Rio Sport. In an impressive debut season, he scored 11 times in 32 games, and in 2003, after only one season in the Belgian league, he was snapped up by Dutch outfit Roda JC. Koné became an instant hit with his impressive goal tally for Roda, and in 2005 more impressive performances for his club earned him a €9m transfer to Dutch champions PSV Eindhoven where he was given the coveted Number 10 shirt. During his time at Roda it was reported that he recommended fellow Ivorian striker Sekou Cissé to join the Eredivisie side.

Breakthrough to national team

Arouna played for the Mama Ouattara run Côte d'Ivoire youth team in the 2003 FIFA World Youth Championship, sporting the Number 8 shirt, where he starred alongside Lierse team mate Tohoua and the much talked about Antonin Koutouan. The team finished the group stage in second place, ahead of Mexico and Saudi Arabia. They progressed to the knockout phase along with the Republic of Ireland, where they were beaten by the United States 2-0. Arouna scored three goals in the tournament, once in the 2-1 victory against Mexico, and twice in the 2-2 draw against the Republic of Ireland, and the official FIFA website declared Arouna to be a "crucial pivot for the attacking thrust" of the Ivorian team.[2]

Arouna made his Côte d'Ivoire senior international debut in March 2004 against Tunisia, where the Elephants were 2-0 victors. He wears the Number 9 shirt for his country, playing in the 2006 African Cup of Nations tournament, scoring once, where the Elephants were runners up to hosts Egypt.

World Cup 2006

Arouna was selected to represent his nation in the 2006 World Cup in Germany.[3] He made appearances in all three group games for the Elephants, but did not score as the team were sent packing at the group stage. This was despite impressing with their attacking brand of football that saw them defeat Serbia and Montenegro and give both Argentina and the Netherlands a real run for their money.

Arouna was left on the bench for the first game against Argentina in Hamburg as Cote d'Ivoire adopted a more defensive approach against one of the tournament favourites. However, goals from Hernán Crespo and Javier Saviola quickly saw them playing catch up. Arouna replaced Abdul Kader Keïta on 77 minutes and five minutes later Didier Drogba fired them back into the game. Alas it was not enough as Argentina ran out 2-1 winners.[4]

Cote d'Ivoire's second game brought a clear sense of déjà vu as they again quickly found themselves two goals down, this time against the Netherlands in Stuttgart. Robin Van Persie's free-kick and Ruud van Nistelrooy's sharp finish left them reeling but a brilliant individual goal from Arouna's brother Bakari soon fired them back into it. Arouna started up front alongside Drogba and twice came close to scoring. Early on he shrugged off the challenge of Giovanni van Bronckhorst only to fire wide and in the second half he blazed over after a smart team move that he had instigated. Arouna was replaced by Kanga Akalé 17 minutes from time. Alas, his team mates couldn't find an equaliser and their World Cup dream was effectively over.[5]

Despite the intense disappointment of being knocked out after two games Cote d'Ivoire picked themselves up for their final Group C game against Serbia and Montenegro in Munich. The Serbs were also out and so an open game was expected. Astonishingly Cote d'Ivoire quickly fell 2-0 down, poor defending allowing Nikola Žigić and Saša Ilić to score. Just before half time a blatant hand ball in the area allowed Aruna Dindane to get his side back in the game. At the start of the second half Serbia were reduced to 10 men when Albert Nađ was dismissed for two bookings. A man up, Cote d'Ivoire took the game by the scruff of the neck in the second half and further strikes from Dindane, with a header, and a late penalty from Paris Saint-Germain striker Bonaventure Kalou after another hand ball saw them to a first ever win in the World Cup finals. Arouna started again, although he wasn't at his best, playing the full 90 minutes. The dream was over but Cote d'Ivoire had announced themselves on the world stage.[6]

A football family

Arouna's older brother Bakari Koné also plays for the national side as a striker and plies his trade in the French Ligue 1 with Olympique de Marseille. The pair competed alongside one another in the World Cup, with Arouna providing the necessary run to clear space for Bakari's long range goal against the Netherlands in the 2-1 defeat on 16 June.

Another brother, Karamoko Koné, is part of the reserve team set up at Arouna's former club Roda JC.

He also sends a proportion of his wages to his mother and family in Côte d'Ivoire. Speaking of his success in football, and his support of his family he is quoted as saying: "In Africa the solidarity for your family is very large. My father died when I was nine years old. My mother and my family have spent many years with difficulty. I am glad that I am now able support them."

2006/07 Season

Arouna enjoyed a successful first half of the 2006/07 season; this led to his stock in world football rising considerably. The PSV number 10 hit nine goals in the Eredivisie at almost a goal every other game. The Eindhoven side look well on course for another Dutch title, lying 11 points clear of second place Ajax. Koné dovetailed well with strike-partner Jefferson Farfan, the Peruvian just edged out Arouna as PSV's top scorer at the winter break.

Koné also made his mark at the top level, scoring twice as PSV cruised through to the knockout stages of the Champions League including a vital winner in the 2-1 victory away to Galatasaray.

Arouna was also shining at international level, bagging his first international hat-trick in an African Nations Cup qualifier against Gabon in Abidjan. A game that saw the World Cup-finalists run riot in a 5-0 victory.

Arouna's successful 2006 finished on an appropriately high note as he was nominated as one of the Ivorian players of the year, an award eventually won by his international strike partner Didier Drogba.

During the January 2007 transfer window Arouna was linked with a number of moves away from PSV. Firstly English Premiership side Aston Villa[7] were linked with a move for the forward, before Koné reportedly rejected a chance to move to Ukrainian giants Shakhtar Donetsk.[8]

In March, Arouna suffered a knee injury in training, which ruled him out of many crucial games for club and country. Following his absence, PSVs seemingly insurmountable lead in the Eredivisie has gradually been crumbled away. After drawing 0-0 against Excelsior, losing to arch rivals Ajax 5-1, and scraping a 1-1 draw at NAC Breda, the Eindhoven sides lead has been cut to just three points by the start of April. Koné, along with Brazilian central defender Alex, has also been ruled out of PSVs crucial Champions League last-16 ties against English Premiership giants Liverpool. Arouna was one of a number of notable absentees through injury for Ivory Coast's African Cup of Nations qualifier against Madagascar. Fortunately, the Elephants were strong enough to survive the game without drama, coming through as 3-0 victors, with goals from Borussia Mönchengladbach defender Steve Gohouri, the Lens striker Aruna Dindane and Paris Saint-Germain frontman Amara Diané.

In May 2007 Koné picked up his second Eredivisie winners medal in two years with PSV claiming the title on the final day of the season on goal difference from rivals Ajax.

In June Arouna made his international comeback from injury in the African Cup of Nations qualifier against Madagascar. The game was played in the Northern city of Bouake as part of a peace initiative in Côte d'Ivoire, rather than Abidjan. Koné started the game as part of a front three, alongside Chelsea strikers Didier Drogba and Salomon Kalou. 18 minutes in Kalou opened the scoring for the Elephants, with Arouna adding another before half time. The second half kicked off with AS Monaco midfielder Yaya Touré getting in on the act to score a third, before Arouna added his second - the Elephants fourth of the game. Drogba finished off the Madagascar defense with a fifth, and winning goal three minutes from the end. All in all, Arouna's international comeback was a complete success, and his impressive brace helped maintain the Elephants 100% record in the African Cup of Nations qualifiers.

2007/08 Season

Arouna (second left) warms up with Ivorian teammates at African Cup of Nations 2008 in Ghana.

Arouna endured a difficult start to PSVs new season in summer 2007. Due to a date mix-up he returned late to pre-season training following a holiday in his native Cote d'Ivoire thus missing out on valuable time to prepare for the new Eredivisie campaign. Added to this, Koné was struck down with the tropical disease Malaria[9] at the end of July 2007, causing him to miss his clubs pre-season tournament - the Russian Railways Cup in Moscow. Minus their talented Number 10, PSV still managed to prosper, beating newly crowned UEFA Champions League holders AC Milan in the semi final and defeating Spanish La Liga champions Real Madrid 2-1 to lift the trophy.[10] In August 2007 it was announced that Arouna had returned to training following his health scare, and was expected to be fit in time for the teams first Eredivisie game against Heracles Almelo on 19 August.[11]

On 17 August Arouna was named in the Cote d'Ivoire squad to face African Cup of Nations Champions Egypt in Paris on 22 August following his return from illness.[12]

Arouna played the full 90 minutes in PSVs season opener against Heracles, with the Championship winning side running out 2-0 winners. Koné didn't score but reports surfaced on 20 August that scouts from English Premiership side Middlesbrough[13] were in the stands, with the Ivorian the subject of their attention, and a £6m bid for his services in the pipeline. The following day news surfaced that Spanish La Liga outfit and UEFA Cup holders Sevilla were locked in talks with PSV to secure the forwards services, with negotiations apparently at an "advanced" stage.[14]

On 28 August it was reported that Koné was due to complete his move to the La Liga side within the week, adding firepower and experience to a side who will be competing in the UEFA Champions League for the first time.

On 30 August Sevilla F.C. confirmed on its official website the signing of the Côte d'Ivoire international player for the next five years. The Spanish club reportedly paid €12 million in order to acquire Arouna's services.[15]

On 12 September Koné was finally presented to the media as a Sevilla player having been assigned the number 22 shirt. The delay from his signing to his unveiling led to rumours that there were problems with the Ivorian's health - in particular his heart. However, Koné was quick to dispel such talk, with the real reason being due to the death of Sevilla wingback Antonio Puerta a few days previously. Arouna spoke about his ambitions for his latest move stating: "I know the team and I know that they have won many things in recent years, but I hope to be able to help them to win even more." At his unveiling Sevilla president Jose Maria del Nido commented that Arouna was 'one of the best attackers in the world' and with the Ivorian in their ranks, the Spanish side had their strongest side in their history.[16]

He made his La Liga debut as a second half substitute for Mali international Frédéric Kanouté in Sevilla's 4-1 victory over Recreativo Huelva on 16 September 2007. He won a penalty for the team, but strike partner Aleksandr Kerzhakov failed to convert. Following the game Koné commented that he felt fellow African Kanouté was one of the "best forwards in the world" and looked forward to striking up an attacking partnership with him.[17]

On 25 September 2007 Arouna opened his scoring account for Sevilla in his second game for the club. The Seville side came from two goals down against rivals Espanyol to make it 2-2 following a Daniel Jarque own-goal and Arouna's spectacular header into the top corner from a Diego Capel cross. Espanyol eventually ran out 3-2 winners but the Ivorian striker had made his presence felt at his new team.[18]

On 2 October 2007 Arouna opened his European account for Sevilla. The Ivorian was a second half substitute for the Spanish side in the group game against Czech Republic outfit Slavia Prague and scored within 10 minutes of his arrival, helping Sevilla to a 4-2 victory.[19]

Koné was named in the Ivorian squad for the 2008 African Cup of Nations in Ghana. He kept his number nine shirt but for the first two games sat on the bench alongside his brother Bakari having fallen behind Didier Drogba, Salomon Kalou and Aruna Dindane in the Ivorian's impressive strike force. With the Ivorian side having qualified for the quarter finals with a game to spare however Arouna was reinstated in the Cote d'Ivoire line-up for the final group match against Mali.

In April 2008 it was reported that Koné was to be shown the door at Sevilla in the summer of 2008, after a disappointing first season in La Liga. The forward, by 20 April, had only started six league games, and made substitute appearances in another 11. His lack of playing time, partly down to the form of fellow strikers Luis Fabiano and Fredi Kanouté, and a bust up on the training ground with a member of the Sevilla training staff that was caught on Spanish television, made for some intense speculation about the Ivorian's future. Additionally, a trip to Rome to supposedly visit a brother, fueled reports that Koné would be making the switch to Serie A when the 2008 summer transfer window re-opened.[20]

Arouna Koné has been linked with a summer move to Liverpool. It is highly speculated that Álvaro Arbeloa could be used as part of a swap deal. However, Tottenham are also interested in the striker. On Wednesday 23 July 2008 it was reported in English national newspaper 'The Times' that Koné had been offered to Middlesbrough by Sevilla.

2008-09 Season

At the start of the 2008/09 season, Koné was given the number nine shirt for his club side following the departure of Aleksandr Kerzhakov to Dynamo Moscow, and was also called up to the Ivorian squad for the 2010 FIFA World Cup qualifying match against Guinea on 20 August 2008. Unfortunately, Arouna suffered a serious knee injury during the match, and it was expected that he would miss much of the upcoming La Liga season[21].

A scan showed that Arouna had suffered a cruciate knee ligament injury in his left leg, and the striker underwent surgery to repair the damage the following week, commenting that he was sure of playing football again that season.[22].

On 4 February 2009 it was reported that Arouna was back in training with Sevilla, and would be expected to return to first-team action in a matter of weeks, following his serious knee injury.[23].

He made his first-team return in March 2009, after seven months on the sidelines, and made a total of six appearances for the season.

2009-10 Season

The 2009-10 La Liga season started badly for Koné, who had fallen out of favour in the side following his injury, and the abundance of strikers already at the club. In September the striker admitted that he would consider a move away from Sevilla to boost his chances of playing for his country at the 2010 FIFA World Cup in South Africa, and the 2010 African Cup of Nations in Angola[24], with La Liga rivals Real Zaragoza a likely destination.[25][26]

in December 2009 it was reported that English Premiership clubs Birmingham City, Wolverhampton Wanderers, Hull City and Burnley were all interested in signing the powerful Ivorian, who had already been left out of his countries 2010 African Cup of Nations squad.[27] On 1 February 2010, Koné left Sevilla F.C. and joined Hannover 96 on loan until 30 June 2010.[28] He scored on his debut for Hannover in a 4-1 loss against Borussia Dortmund.

Personal life

Away from playing for Sevilla and the Côte d'Ivoire national team, Koné is a practising Muslim. He prays five times a day, and also wears the traditional West African Islamic dress, the Boubou, on holidays and on Fridays - the Islamic day of public worship. Koné was also reportedly setting up his own footballing academy, which was due to be completed in December 2005. It was to have the capacity to take up to 50 children when operational.

On 21 August 2007 Arouna became a father after his wife gave birth to the couple's first child - a boy named Amidou. The Ivorian stated that both mother and child were doing well and that he was absolutely delighted.[29]

Career stats

Season Club Country Competition Matches Goals
2002-03 Lierse S.K.  Belgium Jupiler League 32 11
2003-04 Roda JC  Netherlands Eredivisie 28 11
2004-05 Roda JC  Netherlands Eredivisie 33 15
2005-06 Roda JC  Netherlands Eredivisie 2 2
2005-06 PSV  Netherlands Eredivisie 21 11
2006-07 PSV  Netherlands Eredivisie 31 10
2007-08 PSV  Netherlands Eredivisie 1 0
2007-08 Sevilla  Spain La Liga 17 1
2008-09 Sevilla  Spain La Liga 6 0
2009-10 Sevilla  Spain La Liga 9 0
2002-10 Total 183 61

Goals for Senior National Team

# Date Venue Opponent Score Result Competition
1. October 8, 2006 Abidjan, Cote d'Ivoire  Gabon 5-0 Won 2008 Africa Cup of Nations qualification
2. October 8, 2006 Abidjan, Cote d'Ivoire  Gabon 5-0 Won 2008 Africa Cup of Nations qualification
3. October 8, 2006 Abidjan, Cote d'Ivoire  Gabon 5-0 Won 2008 Africa Cup of Nations qualification
4. June 3, 2007 Bouake, Cote d'Ivoire  Madagascar 5-0 Won 2008 Africa Cup of Nations qualification
5. June 3, 2007 Bouake, Cote d'Ivoire  Madagascar 5-0 Won 2008 Africa Cup of Nations qualification
6. November 21, 2007 Doha, Qatar  Qatar 6-1 Won Friendly
7. November 21, 2007 Doha, Qatar  Qatar 6-1 Won Friendly

References

External links


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