Kandji chooses to play for Senegal or Gambia

Citizenship delays force Red Bulls attacker to forgo US option

UPPER MONTCLAIR, N.J. — The international future of Red Bulls attacker Mac Kandji will be determined over the next few days.

Kandji, who had expressed interest in playing for the United States, has decided to wear the colors of either Senegal or Gambia and hopes to represent one of the two countries during qualifying for the Africa Cup of Nations.

“It is Gambia or Senegal," Kandji said on Tuesday. "I will decide soon because I want to play for them in October during the (qualifying) matches then.”

Kandji, who is in the United States on asylum status, was born in Senegal and his father played for the national side. He spent most of his formative years in Gambia, however, and counts more family in the small West African nation than anywhere else.

“I had thought about the United States—my father had advised me to consider the United States because of their organization and structure—but I don’t know when I’ll be able to become a citizen," the 25-year-old Kandji said. "I don’t want to be 31 and just beginning my international career.”

Senegal have had decent succes in recent years, reaching the quarterfinals of the 2002 World Cup and finishing runners up at the 2002 Cup of Nations. Gambia, who already count three MLS players as regulars - the Revolution's Sainey Nyassi and Kenny Mansally and the Sounders' Sanna Nyassi - have never qualified for either the World Cup or the Cup of Nations.

“Both countries are good, strong countries and I think I can play for either one in the African Nations Cup,” Kandji said. “I hope to make a decision within the next two weeks.”

Kristian R. Dyer can be reached for comment at KristianRDyer@yahoo.com and followed at twitter.com/kdyer1012