Editorial – Dominique Badji scored the first hat-trick of his professional career two games ago. With that, the striker has four goals so far this season. He’s playing well under pressure and is ready to create opportunities elsewhere for himself.
Dominique Badji Senegal Hopes: National Team “Keeping Track” As He Finds Form
Badji was one of the few bright spots for Colorado Rapids in a tough 2017 regular season. The year ended with disappointment for the striker. He set a goal for himself to get 10 goals in 2017. In the last match of the season, a road game at Seattle Sounders FC, he missed a PK and ended the season with nine goals in league play.
The team and individual failures have been a motivation for Badji, though he does not dwell on them.
“I don’t really think about 2017. For myself, I set a goal for myself and came up short and that’s fuel for my fire,” Badji told Last Word on Soccer.
You are what you repeatedly do: Hard work turns into goals
Both Badji and Rapids Manager Anthony Hudson felt these last two games have not been an aberration. It’s been coming.
“When I came in, there were some question marks about having someone who can play with their back to goal, holdup play. Some people said they hadn’t seen [Badji] do that before. He’s working incredibly hard and his holdup play has been incredibly strong. He’s full of confidence. He’s getting into the right areas in the box. He’s making runs,” Hudson said.
After the match against Philadelphia Union, he complimented the player given the cloud that has been hanging over him. “[Badji]’s had to carry a big weight on his shoulders. Publicly, we’ve gone after strikers and there’s been this outcry for goals. Quietly, he puts his head down and works incredibly hard. He has an incredible attitude. Everything that’s been asked of him, he tries to do it. I’m just so pleased, he got his rewards tonight and he deserves it.“
Badji re-committed himself this off-season with the new management coming in and an emphasis put on fitness and strength at altitude. He came into preseason in great shape after a strict off-season regiment. He agrees with his manager that last game’s performance was a coming to fruition of hard work.
“Goals give you confidence as a striker. My confidence is at an all-time high,” Badji said. The striker went on to say he feels “in the zone.” He has embraced the new coaching staff, the process, and their efforts to better him as well.
“I love watching game tape. I love feedback. Any way I can better myself, I’ll do it. If I have questions, I run them by [Hudson].”
The feedback has also helped with Badji’s form as Hudson continues to be impressed with his progress with the club.
Eyeing the Senegal National Team:
Badji has had his eyes on the Senegal National Team and hopes look to be turning into a real possibility. The 25-year-old explained:
“We’re in touch through my agent. That’s something I’ve had my eyes on. It’s tough with the World Cup coming up and the current players who worked hard to qualify for that. But it’s definitely something I’ve got my eyes on for the near future.”
As Badji mentioned, the Lions of Teranga will be headed to the Russia World Cup this summer and it is unlikely that Badji will be in consideration for that team. Senegal’s squad currently boasts Sadio Mane and Mame Biram Diourf, who play for Liverpool FC and Stoke City, respectively.
The national team coaching staff is aware of Badji and is in communication.
“They’re keeping track of me. They sent me a message Sunday saying they watched my performance.”
After the summer Badji could be looking at a first call-up.