Diabate among Signings Who Have Lit Up West Asian Leagues
TEHRAN (Tasnim) – Esteghlal striker Cheich Diabate is among four signings who have lit up West Asian leagues this season.
With well over half the season gone across West Asian leagues, the-afc.com looks at some of the signings from the summer of 2019 who have made the biggest impact this season.
While the likes of Driss Fettouhi at Al Hazem SC, Brandley Kuwas at Al Nasr SC and Karim Ansarifard at Al Sailiyah all deserve honorary mentions in this category, but there are the four new arrivals who have stood out this campaign.
The only player of the four to have already experienced Asian football before this season. Cheick Diabate came through the famous Salif Keita Academy in his native Mali before joining French side Bordeaux at the age of 18. There, he spent a decade, making over 120 appearances and scoring 50 goals.
A journey of five clubs in as many years took the towering striker to Turkey, Italy and the UAE where he played the 2018-19 season at Emirates Club. His 10 goals in 19 appearances could not rescue the Ras Al Khaima-based club from relegation, and he was again on the move, this time joining Islamic Republic of Iran giants Esteghlal.
After a slow start, where he failed to find the back of the net for three months, Diabate burst into life with a hat-trick against Tractor. He has since added five more, taking his tally to eight goals in his first 13 matches at the club.
Diabate’s first experience of football in Asia saw him bag a brace in Esteghlal’s 3-0 win over Kuwait SC in the preliminary round 2 of the 2020 AFC Champions League. He then opened the scoring in the 5-0 defeat of Al Rayyan in the play-off to guide his team into the group stage.
Youssouf Niakaté (Al Wehda SC - Saudi Arabia), Kodjo Laba (Al Ain FC - UAE) and Yacine Brahimi (Al Rayyan - Qatar) are three other players in the list.