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Mali Legend On Why Top European Clubs Don’t Scout SA Players

Former Mali and Sevilla attacking midfielder Frédéric Kanouté believes that youth development in South Africa and the Southern African region is still on the backfoot, making it difficult for European clubs to scout there.

Kanouté, 46, was named the 2007 African Footballer of the Year. He pipped then-Chelsea duo Didier Drogba and Michael Essien to the award, becoming the first player born outside Africa to win it.

The former Malian international player also plied his trade for English Premier League giants West Ham United and Tottenham Hotspur before heading to Spain where he enjoyed a successful trophy-laden career with Sevilla.

He won the UEFA Cup (now Europa League) twice, one UEFA Super Cup, two Spanish Cup titles, and one Spanish Super Cup with the Spanish side. Kanouté called time on his illustrious career at Chinese Super League outfit Beijing Guoan in 2013.

When quizzed about why players from South Africa and Southern Africa no longer play in top leagues like the Spanish La Liga and the EPL, and how this challenge can be overcome, he said:

“I think the solution is keep working hard in youth development in those countries,” he told journalists in a Zoom meeting with LALIGA.

“I mean in that particular instance I kind of know a little bit because I’m involved in Zambian football and I’m a consultant for an academy for a club over there.

“I know the talent is huge. The problem is that I think in that Southern region, whether it is in terms of scouting from the top clubs in Europe, maybe the level of youth development they’re still a little bit behind.

“That’s why I’m involved in a very, very interesting project right now with a club in Zambia where we work on developing the player, developing the coaches, developing the facilities and the capacities of that particular club.

“And hopefully we will see the results in a few years. But yeah, football is a slow process I would say. It’s not just because you have talent and you find a few good players and you can have that success.

“I know there are lot of big talent in South Africa and all the Southern region. It needs to be a little bit more nurtured and channelled.

“I’m convinced that in a few years we will see those big talents in top leagues including La Liga.”

The retired former attacking centre-forward netted an impressive 23 goals in 38 outings for The Eagles of Mali between 2004 and 2010.

Frederic Kanoute of Mali during the 2004 Africa Cup of Nations Afcon quarterfinal football match between Mali and Guinea in El Mensah, Tunis, Tunisia on 07 February 2004 ©Gavin Barker/BackpagePix