FC Edmonton defender and Senegal native Papé Diakité played a big part in the club’s success last year and hopes to build on his impressive debut this upcoming NASL season.

Diakité featured heavily for FC Edmonton in 2016 and was a crucial part of its league-best defense that conceded only 21 goals and earned 16 clean sheets in 32 matches. The 6-foot-4 defender featured in 27 of those matches and scored three goals, earning a spot in the NASL Best XI and the NASL Young Player of the Year award

“I was very proud of my achievements last year,” Diakité said. “It’s something that I take a lot of pride in. It will motivate and push me to work harder to continue to develop myself into a top player.”

Now that Diakité is fully settled into the team and his new home city of Edmonton, the defender feels that this season will be better than last. With the squad preserving its defensive core, Diakité is looking to help the team in new areas. The Senegalese defender feels if everyone can add a bit more to their game then there is no reason why the team can’t push for an NASL Championship.

“We have to look at the mistakes we made last season and try to work on them if we want to do better,” Diakité said. “Last year we were only one point away from winning the Spring Season and I think this year we can win it if we work hard. For me personally I want to continue to bring my power and defensive skills to the team and I want to score more goals than I did last season.”

Diakité was part of the Eddies contingent that traveled to Scotland for preseason in 2016. Being a new member to the squad, the defender contributes his success last season to the preseason camp that allowed him time to settle into the squad and get to know his fellow teammates. Team chemistry is a big part of a team’s success and that’s what set the Eddies apart from other teams in the league.

Going away to Manchester together will allow the team to get the chemistry right before the first match of the season. With a lot of of new faces in the squad, Diakité believes this camp can have the same positive effect on the new players that it had on him last season.

“Last year’s trip to Scotland helped me a lot because I was new and it helped me get to know everyone on the team well,” Diakité said. “Last year I came from Europe and everything was new to me. The culture is different than what I was used to, so it was hard for me. Albert [Watson] helped me a lot with that. Our partnership got to the point where we didn’t have to talk to each other a lot on the pitch because we knew each other’s habits and style.

This year we welcomed the new players in already and they’re very easy to get along with. The trip to Manchester, though, will help us get to know them better and I know for sure it will be good for everyone.”

FC Edmonton coach Colin Miller is delighted to have Diakité back and credits a lot of the team’s success last season to the consistency of Diakité and Watson’s partnership at the back. Miller expects Diakité to play another pivotal role for the club this upcoming season.

“[Diakité] has settled into the team well and he’s really enjoying his time in Edmonton,” Miller said. “He’s a big part of the club and we are happy he has signed for us. We are looking forward to seeing how he progresses. He’s still a young player and he’s got a lot to learn still. He’s also a genuine threat in the box because he’s a big unit and if the quality of the crosses are good, I expect all our defenders, not just him, to score more goals for us this season.”

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