Thursday, June 7, 2007

Kanoute and a Big Mess in Africa & Spain

Frederic Kanoute, the Mali international and Sevilla striker, is the second-leading scorer in Spain behind Ruud Van Nistelrooy of Real Madrid.

He's obviously a big reason for Sevilla's success on the national and international stage, leading Sevilla to the UEFA Cup and to within 2 points of co-leaders Real Madrid & Barcelona in Spain's La Liga with 2 matches to go.

Unfortunately, he's not going to play in the last game of the season against Villarreal. He's received a national team call-up for Mali's Group Nine African Cup of Nations game against Sierra Leone, ruling him out of the match.

I alluded to this in an earlier post about the Cup and fixture congestion. Here's a classic example of where no one's satisfied, least of all Sevilla, who lose their marksman for what could be a very important game. Mind you, should they lose this weekend this is all for naught. But what if they could win La Liga against Villarreal, without their prolific scorer?

"I want to play for my country because they need me but I would also like to play here," Kanoute said.

"I don't understand how the two games could be scheduled for the same day. It's not logical.

"What is clear is that it will be impossible to play them both because they are practically the same day," said the Malian sniper.

Kanoute, who has scored 21 league goals this season, will be available to play for Sevilla in the final of the King's Cup against Getafe on 23 June however.

Kanoute is not the only African to be in this situation. Kanoute's Mali team mate - Real Madrid midfielder Mahamadou Diarra - is likely to find himself in the same situation for Real Madrid's final home match against Mallorca.

Barcelona's Samuel Eto'o is also expected to be called up for Cameroon's Group Five qualifier against Rwanda which could rule the striker out of a possible title decider against Gimnastic.

Don't forget that Chelsea's Jose Mourhino has already gone on record saying that most of the transfer moves he makes this summer will be in direct proportion to the amount of players he loses to the Cup of Nations in January.

The debate about when the Cup should be held will heat up as Africans make their mark in European leagues. There's no easy solution.

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