The youngest player at the upcoming Africa Cup of Nations football tournament will be Bertrand Traore, a 16-year-old midfielder for Chelsea and Burkina Faso. If he sees action during the competition in Gabon and Equatorial Guinea, Traore will become the third youngest player ever at African football’s premier event.
The record is held by Gabon’s Shiva Star Nzigou, who was 16 years and almost three months old when he played against South Africa at the 2000 Nations Cup in Ghana. The second youngest is Mohammed Kallon, who came on as a substitute and scored one of his country’s two goals in Sierra Leone’s 2-1 victory over Burkina Faso at the 1996 Nations Cup in South Africa.
Bertrand Traore joined Chelsea’s youth academy in England after an impressive performance
at the 2009 FIFA Under-17 World Cup in Nigeria, where Burkina Faso reached the knockout Round of 16, before losing to Spain, 4-1.
Traore has yet to play a match with Chelsea’s senior club, The Blues, but there’s a good chance at the Nations Cup he’ll play against Chelsea stars Didier Drogba and Salomon Kalou, because Burkina Faso’s second match is against Ivory Coast January 26 in Malabo, Equatorial Guinea.
The Stallions of Burkina Faso made their best Nations Cup showing at the 1998 tournament, which they hosted and where they reached the semifinals. Bertrand Traore’s older brother, 23-year-old Alain, a striker for the French club Auxerre, has also been included on Burkina Faso’s Nations Cup team.