Central Coast Mariners sign Mali international Kalifa Cisse
Central Coast have added "a bit of mongrel" to their coveted A-League resurrection with the arrival of former Reading defender Kalifa Cisse.
The France-born 34-year-old, who earned five caps for Mali between 2008 and 2012, has signed a one-year deal with the Mariners as part of new coach Mike Mulvey's bid to restore last season's wooden spooners to their former glory.
A holding midfielder by trade, Cisse has more recently been deployed in central defence and is set to slot into the vacant role left by released Spaniard Alan Baro.
After rising through the academy of Toulouse, Cisse made his professional debut in Portugal with Estoril before joining top-tier side Boavista.
After two seasons he signed a lucrative contract with then-Premier League club Reading, making 90 appearances and scoring seven goals before switching to Bristol City.
Since then he has completed stints at MLS club New England Revolution and English Championship side Derby County, before moving to Thailand's top flight for Bangkok United, Bangkok Glass and BEC Tero Sasana.
Mulvey viewed Cisse as a much-needed experienced head in the Mariners' back line, having seen him first hand while in charge of BEC Tero Sasana.
"Kalifa is experienced ... one of the big strengths he brings to the team is leadership," Mulvey said.
"We know he will be a solid voice at the back and he will nurture the younger players.
"I've seen first-hand how competitive Kalifa is -- he hates to lose even at training.
"We want a bit of mongrel in the team -- players who need to be winners -- and hopefully we can all learn from that."
Cisse described the Mariners' new order as "ambitious" and was looking forward to reuniting with Mulvey, elite performance coach Andrew Young and new assistant coach Nick Montgomery.
"We have a really young team here at the moment," Cisse said.
"I really want to help the young players to grow, that's one of my highest priorities."
Cisse joins Michael McGlinchey, Corey Gameiro, Matt Simon, Jack Clisby and Jonathan Aspropotamitis as new additions.