Freddie Kanoute: ‘I want to convince Adama Traore to play for Mali’

Freddie Kanoute: ‘I want to convince Adama Traore to play for Mali’

Former Mali striker Frederic Kanoute says he wants to persuade Wolves winger Adama Traore to play international football for Mali rather than Spain.

Traore was born in Spain and has played for them at various youth levels but is eligible to swap allegiances to Mali through his parents.

The 24-year-old was named in a Spain squad in November but was forced to withdraw through injury.

Kanoute, who swapped himself from France to represent Mali, told BBC Sport that he thinks Traore should choose the African nation.

“The Mali FA has called me to say ‘please, please go and see him because you speak perfect Spanish so you can convince him’ and so on,” the 2007 African Footballer of the Year said.

“If he is listening to me right now – I am heading your way Adama.

“Honestly, I would like him to (play for Mali) but I will tell him the truth that it is obviously going to be a struggle and that it is not going to be so comfortable to play for an African national team.

“But the people give you back so much and he has the opportunity to make something big with a very, very talented generation that we have in Mali so I will try to convince him.”

While Spain have been crowned World and European champions, Mali have never qualified for the World Cup while their best showing at an Africa Cup of Nations came when finishing as runners-up in 1972.

More recently, Mali clinched third place at successive Nations Cups in 2012 and 2013 but were eliminated in the Round of 16 in Egypt last year.

Kanoute was born in France and played for their under-21 team before taking advantage of Fifa’s rule change in 2004 that allowed him to choose Mali, where his parents came from.

The former Tottenham Hotspur and Sevilla striker went on to play 38 times for Mali and scored 22 goals.

With scheduled back-to-back 2021 Nations Cup qualifiers against Namibia at the end of March, Mali currently sit joint-top of Group A with Guinea on four points after the opening two rounds of matches.

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