Speaking before Cote d’Ivoire took on a French side newly reunited with Zinédine Zidane in a 2005 friendly, Didier Zokora described Siaka Tiene as “a very good player who hasn’t had the opportunity to play in Europe yet”. “I think it will come,” he added, “because playing in the national side will get him noticed by the bosses”.
A few weeks later, he was proved right when the Ivorian left-midfielder signed for Saint-Etienne, but Tiene never really came into his own with Les Verts and moved to Valenciennes in the summer of 2008. In northern France, however, he recaptured the form that Zokora had admired four years earlier.
Abidjan-born Tiene came through the famed Guillou academy in Abidjan, before leaving ASEC Mimosas at the age of 21 for Mamelodi Sundowns. This unusual move to South Africa ultimately paid dividends: he got used to a daily diet of high-level football, honing his already slick technique and gaining in confidence. Four years after missing out on a chance to represent his country at the 2006 FIFA World Cup Germany™, ‘Chico’ is keen to play his part in the ultimate international competition.
Extremely comfortable with the ball at his feet, Tiene is technically gifted and a good reader of the game. He can also play at left back, the position in which he originally trained and where former Saint-Etienne coach Ivan Hasek preferred to use him, but the midfield role brings out the best of his abilities.