VANCOUVER, BC – In an interview this week, Tony Tchani referred to Kei Kamara as "the headmaster." No, not quite like Dumbledore, but bear with us.
“I feel like every time the ball comes in the air I think he has a 90 per cent chance to win the ball every time,” Tchani told reporters ahead of Saturday’s clash with Kamara and his New England Revolution (5 p.m. PT – TSN2/TSN 1410).
He’s not wrong.
Consider this: no player has scored more headed goals (16) than Kamara since the 6-foot-3 Sierra Leonean striker rejoined Major League Soccer in 2015 following stints with Norwich City FC and Middlesbrough FC. The next closest player, Orlando City SC’s Cyle Larin, has 11.
Kamara also has four goals in his last three games.
Safe to say, shutting him down is going to be one of the major priorities for Whitecaps FC, who have picked up points in three straight matches away from home. Tchani, for his part, knows all about Kamara’s qualities, having played with him at Columbus Crew SC for two seasons.
In fact, Tchani said Kamara is one of his best friends in the entire league.
They recently met up for a short trip during the CONCACAF Gold Cup break and Tchani said he expects them to meet again at some point over the next few days in the Boston area.
“When he came into Columbus, he was just one of our leaders,” Tchani said. “He’s great in the locker room. He gets everybody together. And when he comes to games, he’s always there for us. He always fights for the team. Off the field, he’s a really, really nice guy. He always takes care of the people he’s with. He was one of our brothers when we were in Columbus.”
Like Kamara, Tchani has an outgoing personality that has quickly made him a popular figure within the Whitecaps FC locker room.
Though he wasn’t quite sold on the comparison with Kamara.
“I feel like he’s a nicer guy than me, you know,” Tchani said. “He gets everybody going. He’s goofy. He’s funny. He makes the locker room going."
Tchani said he and Kamara never wager any friendly bets when they face each other. In fact, he wishes Kamara well on Saturday – as long as he "doesn’t score."
“I don’t want any of my friends having bad games,” Tchani said.
Not even the headmaster.
BIG MAN BATTLE
After missing last weekend’s 2-2 draw with Colorado Rapids due to immigration appointments back in Costa Rica, Whitecaps FC centre back and captain Kendall Waston is set to return to the lineup Saturday vs. New England Revolution.
And he’s ready for a battle with Kamara.
“He’s good on crosses,” Waston told reporters. “He has great quality finishing. We have to defend properly and try to make that impossible for them.”