Settling In At York, Bayiha Keen To Show The Real Him Again
This article is based on an original French interview with credit to Quentin Parisis.
It doesn’t seem long ago that Clement Bayiha was a Canadian youth international turning professional in Montreal with all the world in front of him.
The 24-year-old is now, like so many prospects, still looking to punch upwards to the heights he’d dreamt of in his teenage days. Two years after Montreal dropped his contract and just after a subsequent spell in Norway that saw his love of soccer get ‘a bit lost’, York United was the medicine the doctor ordered – and it’s working.
He arrived to York Lions Stadium as a known element, an intriguing prospect who had looked decent with CF Montreal before tapering off in Europe. Bayiha’s season in Norway hadn’t gone the way he’d hoped, with appearances coming few and far between despite a clean bill of health.
“I was away from family and friends. It was a bit difficult, especially as I didn’t play when I deserved to,” says Bayiha. “The coach made some choices and I didn’t fit in with the way he was playing, which was quite difficult mentally, as well as being alone and far away. There was a period when I wondered what I was doing there.”
That’s when York United came calling, offering the speedy winger a chance to return much closer to home and, more importantly, get the regular minutes he’d been missing out on abroad.
That lack of gametime may have led to his detriment early this season, with the midfielder suffering from some muscle fatigue and an early injury near the start of the season. He wasn’t alone in that regard, with an early injury pile-up delaying what has now blossomed into a good run of form.
“At the start of the season, we had a few injuries and lacked attacking realism. The 4-1 defeat by Pacific FC really shook us up, especially mentally. We had to change our approach,” he says of what became a real turning point for the club.
“We put in more effort, adjusted tactically by winning the ball back much more quickly, and improved our finishing. That changed the dynamic, and we’re much better at the moment.”
After suffering a walloping against Pacific, the Nine Stripes went on three consecutive victories against previously undefeated teams, sinking Halifax, Cavalry, and league rivals Forge FC before sharing a point with Valour.
Clement found himself on the scoresheet against Cavalry while assisting Babouli’s effort against Valour, with the Yaounde native really beginning to assert himself in league play.
A hearty win over Atletico Ottawa followed, and he looked good despite the subsequent 1-0 loss to Pacific.
It’s an overall great turn of form for York, but even Bayiha – who wants to show the world the Clement Bayiha, the one who’d signed in Montreal and has much more to give – urges fans and teammates alike not to get carried away.
“We still have a lot of things to sort out tactically. It’s much better, we’ve got quality in the team and a lot of good players and when we get it all sorted out, we’ll be really good.”
At 24, he’s got a unique set of experience following his Major League Soccer and European stints. He describes himself as neither young nor old, but someone who can be a link in the dressing room between those camps.
Whatever role he adopts, it’s beginning to be an important one for York United.
Header Image Photo Credit: John Jacques