I dream of becoming a great player for Burkina Faso – Alio


Burkina Faso’s Souleymane Alio was named the Most valuable Player at the just concluded TotalEnergies U17 Africa Cup of Nations (AFCON) in Algeria, following his mesmerizing performances and talent that led the young Burkinabes to a bronze medal finish.

He was also named man of the match in two games, against Cameroon and Nigeria.

The 16-year-old 6’11” centre-forward spoke to CAFOnline about his exploits in Algeria, and the joy of being named player of the tournament.

Q. What does it mean for you to be named the best player at the AFCON U17?

I am really thankful for this award and also to the coaches and all my teammates. It is thanks to their collective effort that I was awarded. It is a great honor for me. This distinction pushes me to work harder and go further in my career.

Q. Were you surprised by the MVP award?

I honestly didn’t expect that. I played to the best of my ability and the observers made their pick. There were other very good players as well and I want to salute them. Being the best among this crop of players is something really huge.

Q. What was your first reaction when you received the news from back home?

I just remembered shouting ‘Ah yes!’ at the top of my voice. I was really happy, but I asked myself a question; “I, who missed a penalty?

Q. Talking about the penalty against Senegal, what went through your mind after that miss?

I was disappointed and I thought to myself that I have ruined everything. Our objective was to win the Cup. As a player of course you are dejected, but I always challenge myself to give thanks in all situations.

Q. Was being the MVP part of your ambition?

Not really. My objective, by coming to this AFCON, was to give my best in each match and help the team achieve the best results, especially since the first common objective was qualification for the World Cup.

Q. With this reward and the general performance of the team, what is your next ambition?

Of course from here, I want to aim high and take my career to the next level. I dream of becoming a great professional player and to represent my country on the big stage. For now, I know it takes a lot of hard work and I will give everything to achieve this.

Q. To whom do you dedicate this MVP award as well as the two man-of-the-match trophies?

First, I want to dedicate my trophies to the Armed Forces trying to keep peace in Burkina Faso. Secondly, I want to dedicate this to the people of Burkina Faso who have never stopped supporting us. I also dedicate them to the technical staff who trusted me, to all my teammates, because alone, I could do nothing.

Q. What, in your opinion was Burkina Faso’s strength at this tournament and what do you make of the overall level?

The team’s biggest strength was the solidarity and teamwork we had. We also wanted to offer joy to our people back home who are going through difficult times at the moment and this really pushed us to try get a good result.

The level of competition was very high as well and we expected that. Every team we played against was tough and gave us a good game.

Souleymane Alio of Burkina Faso awarded TotalEnergies Man of the Match during the 2023 Under 17 African Cup of Nations Quarterfinal match between Nigeria and Burkina Faso held at the Nelson Mandela Stadium in Algiers

Q. Which can you pick as Burkina Faso’s best game of the tournament?

I would say the semi-final match against Senegal, even though we lost on penalties and I missed the crucial one. Senegal had been touted as the best team and they had not conceded a single goal. But we came in and showed a good performance against them. For me, I consider penalties as a matter of luck. I believe we deserved a place in the final.

Q. In a nutshell, who is Souleymane Alio?

I was born in Ivory Coast to a Burkinabe father and a Malinke mother. I started my football career in Ivory Coast before coming to Burkina Faso, where I currently play for New Stars, a team in the third division.

Q. Who is your role model and do you have a dream club?

My role model is Karim Benzema and I think with a lot of hard work, I could follow in his footsteps. My dream club is Real Madrid. I love this club because of how they play and also because one of my favorite players, Cristiano Ronaldo, also played there.

Q. Several players have had a fantastic career after shining at the U17 AFCON like Victor Osimhen and Patson Daka. Do they inspire you?

Obviously yes, they do inspire me a lot. I want to follow in their footsteps. That is my dream. That is the meaning of my commitment to football, to always aim for the top.

Q. Your final word?

I want to thank the people of Burkina Faso for their support, enabling us to experience an unforgettable AFCON. I promise to do everything to honor my country in future. This is only the beginning.