Trinidad and Tobago striker Kennya “Yaya” Cordner scored for just the second time this season when coming off the bench to score the final goal for IL Sandviken in a 3-0 victory over Stabaek in the Norwegian Toppserien at their Stemmemyren, Bergen home venue on Saturday.
A goal in either half saw Il Sandviken into a two-goal lead before substitute Cordner knocked in a third before full time. She was played through by Maria Brochmann and easily pulled past a Stabæk defender before she put the ball safely down in the corner.
Sandviken now only need six points to secure the league title. Sandviken have won 14 and drawn once in 15 matches, but having played a match more, are only five clear of tradition powerhouses Rosenborg. On Sunday, they are away against Avaldsnes. If victorious there, then the league title can be secured at home against Klepp on November 7.
Despite her team racing to their first title during her time there, injury has limited the contribution of the Tobago-born striker. Twice T&T’s woman footballer of the year, Cordner was the season’s top scorer in the Norwegian top fight in 2019 with 17 goals and also her club’s Golden Boot in 2020 with six goals during an injury-hit season which saw her miss her club’s final five matches.
Cordner, 32, is in her fourth and most problematic season at her club. Because while the team sails to the league title and is still on course for a league and cup double, injury has again limited her time on the field.
Typically, a staple at the club, Cordner made just her ninth appearance of the season when coming off the bench on Saturday. But she’s on the rebound and believes that she is 95 per cent fit at the moment.
“Mentally, I am in perfect balance. I have a relaxed relationship with these injuries. A player who is as fast as I am, naturally exposes himself to strain injuries,” acknowledges Cordner.
“Relaxed because I can do no more than follow the advice and orders of the medical support staff. Frustrated because of course I wish I could play more often and contribute more,” she said in an interview with journalist Davy Wathne.
Cordner hurries to remind that she has after all been decisively involved in several vital situations also in 2021. She also cautions that her team must be fully focused in the next match, despite meeting opponents in the relegation zone. Cordner remembers well what happened when Sandviken were tipped to win the league last season, before ending up third.
“We must take care of that. If we do not go on the field with the right attitude, all matches will be even. We have to take the initiative from the start and play our game—with movement and ball tempo.
“We have fortunately avoided the devastating loss of points against teams from the lower half of the table this season. Although we have many new players, I think the team has taken huge steps. This year’s Sandviken plays beautiful football. We can thank an educational and very clear Alexander Straus for that,” she said.
“The dream is the Champions League and matches on the really big stage, against clubs with... famous stars. I look forward to that. It seems enormously motivating,” says “Yaya”, who admits that she spends a lot of time before the television watching the English Premier League and La Liga.
The 2019 season’s top scorer claims that she thrives in her own company but is too headstrong to keep a dog and share an apartment with others.
Although sticking by herself most time, Cordner does not consider herself anti-social.
“No. Far from. I read the Bible, talk to Our Lord and am busy with myself and mine. Netflix. Cartoons,” she said.
On the rare occasion that Cordner goes out to eat Chinese food or pasta, it is with friends from a different environment than football and Sandviken.
“Lisa (Fjeldstad Naalsund) is probably the one who is closest to me and with whom I talk the most,” she said of her team-mate.
She also reveals a friendly rivalry between her and another team-mate, Maria Brochmann, both vying for a starting position.
“It’s a kind of competitive relationship between Maria (Brochmann) and me. We kind of fight for the same top spot. The point is that we are so different that the tactics determine the coach’s choices. In addition, we give Sandviken variation opportunities that competitors envy us. We have a larger register. We can change and try something else if we get stuck and do not succeed from the start.”