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Last Updated: Tuesday, 30 December, 2003, 15:31 GMT
Mali's problem solved
James Copnall
BBC Sport

Kanoute is a real attacking force
Kanoute would boost the Eagles' Nations Cup hopes

Frederic Kanoute could well be the answer to Mali's footballing prayers.

The Tottenham striker has agreed to play for the Eagles, who must now be hoping their striking worries are at an end.

For years Mali have had everything a top team needs - except a world class forward.

Even at the 2002 Nations Cup finals - where the Eagles soared to the semifinals - the lack of a top striker was obvious.

Mamadou Bagayoko, the starting number nine, was to score only once.

No other striker from within the squad stepped up to fill in the goalscoring void.

Instead, Mali's goals came from midfielders like Soumaila Coulibaly, Seydou Keita and Bassala Toure.

Two years on, nothing has changed.

Coulibaly is still arguably the Eagles' greatest goal threat, and he scored twice as they disposed of Guinea Bissau in the 2006 World Cup qualifiers preliminary round.

Nevertheless, the Freiburg star and his midfield cohorts should not be relied upon to score as many goals as genuine attackers.

That is why new Mali coach Henri Stambouli made convincing Kanoute to play for Mali a priority.

Mali coach Henri Stambouli
Stambouli has made Kanoute his priority
"It's no secret, we need a striker," Stambouli said shortly after his appointment.

"We have great players, but the one thing we lack is someone to put the ball in the net on a regular basis."

Stambouli feels Kanoute could be just that man.

The striker has been impressive since moving to English Premiership strugglers Tottenham in the off-season, having scored seven goals so far in an injury-hit campaign.

Kanoute's strength, touch and dribbling abilty, combined with his eye for goal, would certainly make him a firm favourite with the Mali fans.

He could also be the missing ingredient the Eagles need to match - or even improve - on 2002's semifinal placing.

Kanoute opts for Mali
29 Dec 03  |  African
Mali confident on Kanoute
27 Dec 03  |  African
Kanoute considers Mali career
09 Oct 03  |  African

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