They do not say openly, but they assume: Johan Djourou and Xavier Kouassi have rallied Neuchâtel in the skin of “warriors” ready to fight the ultimate battle against FC Sion.
Two months after their dismissal in the canton of Valais, the swiss international and half ivorian joined Neuchâtel Xamax to, especially, give to the resumption of the Super League, a craze that we would have found it hard to suspect there is little. “It is true. There is something palpable in the air, as a great expectation. note Johan Djourou. I’ve noticed among fans xamaxiens, with my new team mates.”
For the Genevan, his coming to Neuchâtel responds to a certain logic. In January 2019, he had already been very close to joining La Maladière. “The contact established at the time with the president Christian Binggeli has not been broken,” he said. My experience at Zion was short-lived as I had no intention of leaving Switzerland, the resumption of the Super League has offered me an opportunity.”
The memory of Hamburg
Johan Djourou is now linked with Neuchâtel Xamax until the end of the season. It leaves all the doors open for the future. “I could very well prolong the experience in Neuchâtel, loose-t-it. But first of all, it is necessary to see how the mayonnaise takes and it is especially necessary to keep up.” As there are five years with SV Hamburg, Johan Djourou, therefore, will dive into a fight without mercy against relegation. “With Hamburg, we were saved at the last minute of the match the return of the dam to Karlsruhe,” he remembers. I hope that we will save more early this time…”
For Johan Djourou, the key to success in this operation maintenance lies in the team spirit. “My first impression is excellent. This famous team spirit is welcomed there. Xamax is already saved in the last year. The players know what to expect. Now, it is necessary to keep the ideas clear. Strive to make progress together. And most importantly, do not be too good too fast !”
“We will attack”
Monday, during the resumption of training, Johan Djourou and Xavier Kouassi worked individually. “It was a simple precaution. Just to get back in the bath”, breath Johan Djourou, whose second appearance in the suit sédunois was those first 13 minutes of the game at the Stade de Suisse on 8 February. “I had to get out because of elongation, he says. Nothing serious. I would have been able to play again at the end of the month if the pandemic coronavirus had not stopped the championship”.
At his side, Xavier Kouassi wants to be reassuring. “Johan and I will attack the 20 against Thun for the recovery, he promises. With the sequence of matches, recovery and the ability to operate the turnovers will be critical.” In this respect, the good news of the day for the Xamaxiens was the insurance of being able to count in the first three matches on the presence of Gaëtan Karlen. Under contract until 30 June, the future Sédunois was one of 25 players to training on Monday and it should be at the disposal of the coach Joël Magnin until the expiration of his contract.
At the age of 33, Johan Djourou opens, as well, to the Maladière a new page of a career that has led to Arsenal, Birmingham City, Hannover, Hamburg, Antalya, Ferrara, and finally to Zion. If he has the elegance not to comment on his divorce with Christian Constantin, it is understood that after the unfortunate experience in the canton of Valais has grown to ten times its motivation. Do not think for a single second to announce his international retirement. “The example of Stephan Lichtsteiner is there to demonstrate that age is not a factor, he explained. If you’re good, you play.” The one who celebrated his 72nd and final selection of the 11 September 2018 in Leicester against England and has played at three world Cups and wants to believe that an ultimate rebound is possible.