FC Edmonton centre-back Abdoulaye Diakité has rediscovered the form that saw him crowned North American Soccer League (NASL) Young Player of the Year in 2016 after an impressive debut season with FC Edmonton.

The towering defender possesses great strength and speed that can frustrate strikers, and has been a constant figure in head coach Colin Miller’s back-line since the beginning of the 2016 season. Despite a lack of results, the Pikine, Senegal product’s play has been one of the positives for the Eddies in 2017.

The 24-year-old currently leads the Eddies in clearances with 61 in 10 matches. Diakité has won 18 tackles, a grand total of 82 percent of the tackles he has attempted this season. On top of that, Diakité has won 42 individual duels against his opposition and continues to be a tough defender to play against.

“I watch the game tape to see what I did during the games, then I try and see the things I did wrong so I can try to correct them for the next game,” Diakité said. “That’s what helps me stay consistent. The more you play and the more experience you get, the easier it becomes to keep playing at a consistent level and that’s helped me improve.”

With captain Nik Ledgerwood currently out of the team due to injury and Adam Straith away with the Canadian Men’s National Team, Diakité had been given a chance to lead the team as captain against the New York Cosmos. That evening, Diakité and his teammates put forward a stellar performance that saw the Eddies register a 4-2 win on the road in Brooklyn. It was a proud moment for the Senegalese defender as it was the first time he captained the Eddies during his year-and-a-half at the club.

“It was a good moment for me,” Diakité stated. “It showed to me that the club have a lot of faith and trust in me and that’s good to know. The armband is just an object to me though, it doesn’t change me at the end of the day. The most important thing is to be a good leader on the field and hopefully it will help get us the results we need, but it doesn’t change how I play. It’s important everyone is on the same page to do good for ourselves and the club overall.”

Miller stated that he has yet to decide who will captain the team this weekend when they travel to Florida to take on Jacksonville Armada FC, but he’s been impressed with Diakité’s leadership abilities. Miller decided to give Diakité the armband as a reward for his strong performances so far this season, and the Eddies’ coach believes he has the potential to be a terrific captain one day.

“It’s a reward for what he’s done and could have a very positive influence on the rest of the group,” Miller said. “It gives them a lift too, so it was very much a bit of both. He has played well, but there’s also a maturity side of everyone’s game and his discipline has been good over the last few matches. He’s been sitting on four yellow cards for a while and he hasn’t got his fifth yet, which shows that he’s been playing with more discipline. Maybe that spell as captain has helped with that side of his game.”

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