I would really like to see an African nation going further than the quarter-final this year. It would really change what has happened in the past, but I don’t feel they’re quite ready yet. Beyond that – I think the South American teams are very strong and expect to see at least one of them in the final.
My pick for the Golden Boot isn’t going to be very original here but I would say maybe Messi. Everyone has criticised him for the way he plays in the national team but maybe this time he’s going to show them that he can score goals and play well for Argentina as well. But honestly I don’t know…obviously Neymar is another strong contender.
I’ve never regretted choosing Mali over France. I’ve enjoyed playing for Mali and it was a well thought out decision for me. I know that being born in Lyon, the easy way was to go for France and play more international tournaments and so on, but I followed my heart and was really happy to play for Mali. I enjoyed playing for France in the youth teams also, but I just wanted to bring something back to Africa and to my Dad’s lands. To do it the other way round, from Europe to Africa. And it opened a lot of opportunities to me in Africa, like my charity work in Mali.
The best I’ve ever played with, is a difficult question. I played with some great players in England, Robbie Keane for example, and Jermain Defoe I think is a great player. I remember when Sonny Anderson arrived from Barcelona when I was playing for Lyon and I learnt a lot from him. Luis Fabiano at Sevilla was another very good player….so I don’t know. It’s hard to name one!
The best I’ve played against is definitely Ronaldo – not Cristiano, the Brazilian Ronaldo. The old Ronaldo. I remember I was still a kid and I played UEFA Cup against Inter Milan, he was playing at the time and I could see he had something really special.
I started playing in the street and in local clubs in my neighbourhood, before starting in the Olympique Lyonnais Academy, which is one of the best in France. So I know what affect it can have on kids and the kind of improvement it can have on their skills if they are in a good environment.
The KAFO Academy is the school we’re launching alongside the Kanoute Cup on Saturday June 14 and following up with the Summer Camp. So it’s going to be used as the launch of the regular academy open from September in schools.
I chose the UAE to set up this school because I actually established myself and settled here one year ago, I wanted to work here because I realise that there are a lot of things to do in football here, to develop the game and so on. The UAE is a place where they love football and a lot of kids are really eager to play here. I thought it was something I could bring over based on my experience in Europe – having played in many different leagues – and I think it represents Dubai well as it’s quite a cosmopolitan city, so I thought it was a great thing to do here.
Frédéric Kanouté was at the opening of his football school The Kafo Academy in Dubai Sports World at Dubai World Trade Centre. For more info go here dubaisportsworld.ae