Ones to Watch | Number 8: Kamaldeen Sulemana
In a football world filled with countless stars of today, so many of us are curious about who is waiting in the wings. That search for that next wonderkid; a youngster that has the potential to make us stand up and marvel at how they are masters of their craft despite their tender age, is always on the minds of millions of fans around the world.
With this in mind, we at 101 Great Goals will be bringing you another weekly series taking a look at players across the world that are 21-years-old or younger. Some of them you will have no doubt heard of, while we hope to bring you a few new names to spark your curiosities every now and then.
Name: Kamaldeen Sulemana
Place of Birth: Techiman, Ghana
National team caps: 10 (including international friendlies)
Current club: Stade Rennais
Current Market Value (per Transfermarkt): €20-million
Potential suitor(s): Unknown
Ghana is at a crossroads in its footballing journey in the aftermath of what was an immeasurably disappointing outing at AFCON 2021 when the Black Stars were ousted from the competition during the group stage after failing to emerge from a group compromised of Morocco, Gabon, and Comoros while finishing bottom in the process.
It was a hard pill to swallow for a nation that prides itself on its legacy on the African continent – and on the global stage as a whole – after they had reached the semi-finals at AFCON six consecutive times between 2008 and 2017, finishing runner-up on two occasions in the process.
And the same can be said of their record at the World Cup. Ever since their first trip to the global sporting spectacle in 2006 where they reached the knockout stage in their first-ever appearance in 2006, they bested that effort just four years later when they reached the quarterfinals before losing out to Uruguay in a penalty shootout, captivating neutral fans the world over.
But now, in the wake of failure, new blood is needed in the Ghana camp if they are to rebuild an image that will be without not only a few household names but one that on the surface is lacking goals in a big way. Of the latest squad called up by manager Franky Vercauteren that successfully secured their passage to Qatar 2022 while dispatching Nigeria in the process, only four players have found the back of the net for their country. One player that was missing from action, but whose role is growing rapidly in the national consciousness is 20-year-old winger Kamaldeen Sulemana.
🇬🇭 Kamaldeen Sulemana for Rennes in 2021/22:
• 1,325 minutes played
• 14 starts
• 5 goals
• 3 assists
Imagine if injuries didn’t cut short his first season in France. Baller ⚽️pic.twitter.com/hHc1J8tuOZ
— Owuraku Ampofo (@_owurakuampofo) April 25, 2022
Born in the market town Techiman, Sulemana began his footballing education with local youth outfit Techiman Liberty FC before joining the vaunted Right To Dream Academy in 2013 at the age of eleven. He would spend seven years fine-tuning his craft before Danish youth magnate FC Nordsjælland – parent club to Right To Dream – brought him to the Scandinavian nation in January of 2020 and signed a five-year contract with Tigrene upon turning 18 in February.
Sulemana did not have to wait long to make his debut for the club either, with a substitute appearance against SønderjyskE Fodbold in a 30-minute cameo that eventually would build out to 13-appearances in the second half of the 2019-20 season where he would manage 4-goals in the Danish Superliga in the process.
His influence would already increase in the summer of 2020 when compatriot and Nordsjælland starlet Mohammed Kudus left for Dutch giants Ajax, which resulted in Sulemana being gifted the ten shirt. Faith in the 18-year-old was soon repaid in spades as he embarked on a 2020-21 campaign where he found the back of the net on ten occasions in 29-appearances in the league.
It was during this season here Sulemana had already made his international debut for Ghana against Mali and Qatar during the October international break, and his rise to prominence in Denmark caught the eye of Ligue 1 outfit Stade Rennais who secured his services last summer in a €15-million move for the technically gifted winger while beating out interest from the likes of Ajax as well as Bayer Leverkusen.
Kamaldeen Sulemana heavily favours the left flank in possession. He often uses the full width of the pitch to drag defenders wide and beat them in 1 v 1 situations or draw double teams, subsequently creating space for teammates in more central positions. https://t.co/hhkboTQ1V0 pic.twitter.com/d6CrJL4M2Y
— Breaking The Lines (@BTLvid) April 27, 2022
With pace to burn, impressive technical qualities that put him ahead of the curve, and a willingness to take his man on to a high rate of success, Sulemana boasts a creative nature that relies on his understanding of space that can draw defenders out in order to allow supporting runs from those around him, rather than a reliance on picking a delicious ball out for service.
Since his arrival in Brittany with Rennais, Sulemana has already impressed in his debut Ligue 1 season under Bruno Génésio at Roazhon Park while scoring five goals across all competitions in the process, but his season was cut short by a back injury that has seen him miss the last ten matches for Les Rouge et Noir in a campaign that could end up with Champions League football being on the cards next term.
Still, the manner in which Sulemana exploded on the scene in France – which included a goal on his debut in a 1-1 draw against Racing Club de Lens on matchday one – has proven that Ghana has another rising star in their ranks that could help the nation progress once again in the wake of reaching the upcoming World Cup in Qatar.
If you missed last week’s installment, check out Ones to Watch; Takefusa Kubo