The Wanderers are bringing one of the top U Sports midfield pairings of the past few seasons to Halifax for the 2020 season, with the signings of Omar Kreim and Aboubacar Sissoko.
The pair have been a central part of the powerhouse Montreal Carabins team that made it to three consecutive U Sports championship finals.
They played more than 50 games together in four years, leading the Carabins to a Canadian University title in 2018.
“It’s really exciting, I know the city, I know the fans and I watched some games last year and I’m really excited to join the atmosphere and play on the grass pitch,” Kreim said.
“I’m very happy I chose the Wanderers and I really want to win with them,” Sissoko said. “Everywhere I play, I play to win.”
Both players are 24 and Stephen Hart is happy to have secured their signatures, knowing they have attracted attention from other clubs.
“Omar is a very dynamic mobile player, he can play across the front line and anywhere in the midfield,” said Wanderers coach Stephen Hart. “Aboubacar has lots of energy, can cover a lot of ground and together they have a good understanding.”
The Wanderers coach liked the look of Kreim in last year’s U Sports final — in which he was named MVP — after making the pass that led to the Carabins winning goal in extra time.
And Sissoko is a player Hart also thinks can make a difference in the CPL following an exceptional season that resulted in him being named the U Sports player of the year.
Born in Casablanca, Morocco, Kreim’s family moved to Montreal when he was seven.
He got his start playing soccer as a nine year old with Montreal team Le club des Braves d’Ahuntsic.
After six years there, he played with Salaberry Athletic Federation, before moving on to Collège Montmorency.
He did have professional trials in Sweden as an 18-year-old but returned to Canada to concentrate on his schooling.
He’s confident his three years with the Carabins have prepared him well for the step up to the CPL where he’s hoping to make an impact in Halifax.
“I am a player who likes to dribble and make the final passes to set up goals,” Kreim said. “I’m a lefty and I also like to defend and run a lot and tackle to win the ball back. I just want to contribute to help the team win.”
Sissoko was born in Mali, West Africa, before moving to Montreal with his family when he was 11.
He has also played for semi-pro teams Mont-Royal Outremonts and Longueuil, in addition to making two appearances at the U 20 level for Mali.
Known as ‘Abou’, Sissoko describes himself as a defensive midfielder who likes to control the play.
“I work hard for my team and I can win the ball and pass quickly to other players,” Sissoko said. “Omar and I are good together and that’s good for us and good for Halifax.”
Sissoko is now a permanent resident of Canada and in the final stages of applying for citizenship.
“I’m pleased we have been able to add these two players. Our squad is beginning to take shape and I see them both complimenting Andre Rampersad in the midfield,” Hart said.
The Wanderers have already announced the signings of goalkeeper Christian Oxner, leading goalscorer Akeem Garcia, midfielders Rampersad and Scott Firth as well as defender Alex De Carolis.
University prospects Cory Bent and Jake Ruby will also fight for spots in Stephen Hart’s squad during training camp which gets underway in March.