New York Red Bulls forward Macoumba Kandji may be thrilled by the addition of Thierry Henry to his squad, but he's also intimidated by his presence.
Kandji will suit up with his new strike partner – and childhood idol – on Thursday night against Tottenham Hotspur in the Barclays New York Challenge at Red Bull Arena (8:30 p.m. ET, Fox Soccer Channel).
“I can’t believe, I still can’t believe,” Kandji told MLSsoccer.com. “It’s just amazing. One of the best players in the world, playing with us.”
Kandji is expected to replace Juan Pablo Angel, who will miss the Tottenham match with an injury.
New York manager Hans Backe revealed last week that he saw Kandji moving to a role in the midfield, on the wings. The arrival of Henry precipitated this move and Kandji said last week that he was comfortable with the switch.
“He can play both positions,” Backe told MLSsoccer.com. “He’s a rather spectacular player. He can make a difference.”
Kandji said he is closing in on full fitness following an ankle injury in May that derailed him for several weeks. After making a late match appearance against D.C. United two weeks ago, he played the entire second half against Columbus last weekend. Kandji said that he can go 60 to 70 minutes against Tottenham and that the coaching staff and trainers are pleased with his progress.
“Hopefully I can get the full 90 minutes in Houston,” Kandji said about the team’s next league fixture.
The fact that he might assist on Henry’s first goal – “or maybe the other way around,” Kandji said with a laugh – is not something he's dwelling on. But he does recognize that partnering with Henry up top against Tottenham will be special.
“It's a dream I’m living right now,” he said.
Kristian Dyer is a reporter for MLSSoccer.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Soccer or its clubs. He can be reached for comment at KristianRDyer@yahoo.com and followed at twitter.com/kdyer1012