Kanouté ready to call time on Mali following World Cup qualifier riot

Click to follow
The Independent Online

Frédéric Kanouté, the Tottenham Hotspur and Mali striker, says he is considering retiring from international football after the crowd trouble at last month's World Cup qualifier in Bamako.

Frédéric Kanouté, the Tottenham Hotspur and Mali striker, says he is considering retiring from international football after the crowd trouble at last month's World Cup qualifier in Bamako.

Kanouté, who made his Mali debut 15 months ago was shocked by the scenes that followed a late Togo winner. The World Cup African zone Group One qualifier was abandoned in the final minute after crowds stormed the pitch.

"It was the worst incident I have experienced but I was not scared," Kanouté said. "I felt more upset than scared. It was just sad because it is a bad image for Africa once again."

At least 19 people were taken to hospital following the violence, while dozens of others were injured as rioting spread from the stadium to the city centre.

Some reports claimed Mali's angry fans had made Kanouté the scapegoat for the 2-1 defeat and were chanting death threats but the striker says that did not happen.

"There were some stories which weren't true; I didn't hear any death threats against me and I was not scared to death," he said. "In my opinion it was a general incident."

The defeat against Togo left the West African nation with little hope of qualifying for next year's World Cup finals and Kanouté admits he may not play for Mali again.

"I don't want to give up easily. We still have a good team and I believe in my team-mates, but sometimes you have to think and consider what's best for you and your family. I don't want to say I won't go back but I have to think about it."

Kanouté, who played for France's Under-21 team, was cleared by Fifa, football's world governing body, to play for his parents' country in January last year. He made his debut in a 2-0 win over Algeria in the same month and his goals helped Mali reach the semi-finals of the African Nations Cup in Tunisia in February.

The former Spurs player Bobby Zamora has finally won over West Ham United fans - but his relationship with the supporters of another former club, Brighton, could be tested if he continues scoring.

The 24-year-old is remembered fondly at the Withdean Stadium after three successful seasons with the Seagulls before moving to Tottenham. Zamora then moved to Upton Park as part of the deal that took Jermain Defoe to White Hart Lane, an ideal signing as Zamora supports the Hammers.

Fans initially jeered him after some indifferent performances but they were chanting his name on Tuesday night when he scored the only goal of the game against Stoke City, keeping alive West Ham's hopes of a play-off place.

The West Ham manager, Alan Pardew, said: "We know and I know Bobby's a quality player. It was great to hear our fans sing his name because they've been tough on him. He's a West Ham boy and I think sometimes our fans have a strange way of motivating players.

"They were terrific to him and that would have been music to his ears because Bobby's a confidence player," Pardew added. "Hearing his name chanted by our fans will do him the world of good."

Zamora was prolific at Brighton, although he struggled at Tottenham after a £1.5m transfer. He now wants to return to the Premiership, although if West Ham win at the Withdean on Saturday his former club would be left deep in relegation trouble.

Pardew added: "He's got a lot of friends there, they are having a tough old time, so he'll have mixed emotions. But he's a West Ham player and he'll want to play there.

"Four wins and three draws in our last seven games, and we start to look like a real tight unit. There's a real spirit amongst the players."

Zamora scored two minutes after coming off the bench at the Britannia Stadium, putting West Ham within a point of the top six.

He said: "The fans have been really good to me recently. They've been getting behind me and the team and their support really does make the difference. It was great to get the winner for them."

Of his former team he added: "They're in a real dogfight down at the bottom and both teams are desperate for the points. I had some of the best years of my life at Brighton and I've still got a lot of friends down there.

"I really hope they survive relegation and it'll be a big day for me going back there. But first and foremost I've got to do what I can to help West Ham get another three points."

* A player with the German second division club Rot-Weiss Erfurt has tested positive for the banned drug fenoterol, the German Football Association said yesterday. The unnamed player's positive sample was given after a match against SpVgg Unterhaching on 6 April.

* Michel Platini, the former World and European footballer of the year, will make the draw for the finals of the Uefa Under-19 tournament in Belfast on 3 June. Northern Ireland are hosting the event which will run from 18 July to 29 July.

Comments