Buya Turay: Sierra Leone’s ‘runaway groom’ boosted by Swedes’ return

Mohamed Buya Turay posed with his partner (left) before their actual wedding day as his brother supported him (right)

So determined was Sierra Leone international Mohamed Bouya Tourai to make an impact at his new Sweden club that he missed his wedding in July to take part in Malmo’s pre-season training.

Instead, just days after posing for photos in wedding clothes in Freetown, Turay was represented at his wedding ceremony in the capital by his brother, a feature not uncommon in Islamic weddings.

That’s because Malmö revealed their signing on July 22, a day after Tourai was due to attend his own wedding.

“I wasn’t there because Malmö asked me to come here earlier,” he said later Swedish newspaper Afton Bladet. external link

“We took the pictures beforehand. So it looks like I was there but I wasn’t. My brother had to represent me at the wedding itself.”

But while his brother Turay could cover for him on his wedding day, he certainly cannot support the striker in the demands of top-level European football.

Because the 27-year-old is “delighted” to be back in Sweden after joining the country’s most successful club, allowing him to chase Europa League glory.

“It’s a dream for me to play in the Europa League for Malmö,” he told BBC Sport Africa.

After exiting the Champions League qualifiers, Turay helped Malmo reach the group stage of the Europa League where they are in Group D along with Portugal’s Sporting Braga, Germany’s Union Berlin and Belgium’s Union St. Gilois.

He played over an hour in the opening 2-0 defeat at the headquarters of Bragaexternal link but he was absent in the 3-2 defeat in Belgium and – after scoring twice in the third qualifying round against Luxembourg side F91 Dundelange – is still searching for his first goal in the group stage.

However, that could happen as early as Thursday night when Malmo host Union Berlin.

“Some people don’t rate the Swedish league”

Turai knows Swedish football very well, having spent most of his club career in the Nordic country.

In 2019, while on loan at Djurgardens IF won the Allsvenskan title and the league’s golden boot with 15 goals.

“The Swedish league made me famous,” Turay said, and in return he wants to promote his credentials.

Because while the country’s top flight may not rank among Europe’s best, ranked 23rd out of 55 leagues in UEFA’s European government’s ratings, the 27-year-old takes a very different view.

His comments come after he returned to Sweden in July to join champions Malmo on a three-and-a-half-year deal, having previously left Chinese Super League side Henan Songshan Longmen by mutual consent.

“I know some people don’t rate the Swedish league very highly, but they’re not in Sweden to feel the pace and the quality,” he said.

“The level is high and it is very competitive. If the level of the league is not good and not highly rated, why are Swedish teams playing Champions League and Europa League [group stages] each year?”

Mohamed Bouya Tourai in action for Sierra Leone against Ivory Coast
Tourai was an ever-present for Sierra Leone at this year’s Africa Cup of Nations in Cameroon

Tips for Kallon in China

Tourai was part of the Sierra Leone squad at the Africa Cup of Nations finals in Cameroon earlier this year, playing in all three of his side’s matches against Algeria, Ivory Coast and Equatorial Guinea.

National team-mate Issa Kallon, who also played in the Nations Cup, joined Chinese Super League side Shanghai Port from Dutch side Cambuur soon after Tourai left China for Malmö.

The forward, who moved to China in 2020 and also turned out for Super League sides Hebei FC and Henan Songshan Longmen, says Kallon needs to be fully committed on and off the pitch to adapt to his new life in the Asian nation.

“My advice to him is that he has to work harder than anyone on his team to succeed,” he said.

“I’m proud of him for the step he took to go there. He made a smart move by taking his family with him and that will keep him happy for the team to perform well.

“I know it’s hard to be there without your family. I’ve been through a lot without my family in the last four years, but thank God I’m married now.”

Mohamed Buya Turay during his spell with Henan Songshan Longmen
Turai returned to Sweden after a spell with Henan Songshan Longmen

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