UPPER MONTCLAIR, N.J. – It has been a busy few days for New York goalkeeper Bouna Coundoul.
In the middle of last week, Coundoul packed his bags and goalkeeper gloves to make the long journey to Africa to represent his national team of Senegal in a Cup of Nations qualifier.
Coundoul’s travels began at Liberty International Airport in Newark, N.J., when he made an eight-hour flight to London. After an hour layover, Coundoul flew an hour to Paris. There in France he trained with the rest of the national team for four days.
The Senegalese team then hopped on a plane again, another six hours in the air to get to Cameroon and, following a short layover, four hours to Lubumbashi, DR Congo. All this travel for Coundoul to be the second choice keeper in Senegal’s 4-2 win over DR Congo. The Red Bulls’ netminder didn’t even see the field in the match.
That's a lot of frequent-flier miles for the 28-year-old Coundoul, who is the most senior and experienced 'keeper in the national-team pool.
“I traveled 16 hours, hoping to get some playing time,” Coundoul told MLSsoccer.com. “I then go all that way to sit on the bench. That’s tough.”
During the qualifier, Coundoul sat behind Khadim N’Diaye in goal, a 'keeper who played for Senegal’s head coach Amara Traoré when he was on the sidelines in Senegal’s professional league.
Coundoul won’t say his coach is playing favorites, but it's a situation that concerns him, especially with the amount of traveling the player does to get to matches. On Thursday morning, Coundoul said that he was extremely jet-lagged following the recent flights but he will be fine by Saturday.
“The fact that I am the only goalie playing at a high level on the national team, and doing what I think is [playing] well with my club, and still sitting on the bench is difficult for me to understand,” Coundoul said. “I think people are questioning it back home in Senegal.”
The Red Bulls 'keeper, who is enjoying perhaps his most solid season in his six years in MLS, isn’t ready to turn his back in frustration on the national side, but he is clearly worried over the trend.
“If it keeps happening, I might need to focus on my club team here in New York,” Coundoul said.
Kristian R. Dyer can be reached for comment at KristianRDyer@yahoo.com and followed at twitter.com/kdyer1012