Former Tottenham forward Kanoute feels that the Mali squad that won the Under-20 Afcon should be closely groomed into the senior setup.
The Eaglets were crowned African Under-20 champions for the first time ever last Sunday, after beating Senegal in the final.
With Mali also previously taking part in seven Fifa Under-20 World Cups, including finishing third at the 1999 and 2015 editions, those exploits have never been translated into success for the senior national team.
Mali great Kanoute fears power struggles that have rocked the Federation of Malian Football (Femafoot) in recent years is derailing progress. Fifa-appointed a normalisation committee to run the affairs of the game in the country.
“Mali keeps doing good things, especially at the youth level. We know that there is quite an important crisis in Malian football right now, the federation isn’t working right now and had been dissolved a few months back,” Kanoute exclusively told Goal.
“We need to put things together to make sure that we can help Malian football and finally have a top senior team that wins, for example, an Afcon very soon. We know that Mali has loads of talent and now we need to let them be in the best environment for their talent and try to make it big at international level.”
Kanoute now runs his own sports management company and is involved in grassroots football in Mali. The Austria-based duo of Sekou Koita and Ousmane Diakite, as well as midfielder Boubacar Traore, were some of the standout Mali players at the recently-ended Under-20 Afcon.
“In the U-20s, we follow them a lot because some of the players come from the academy that we are working with in Mali.”
“We know that very well and some of them are players that we have helped with my company to go to Europe and play for professional clubs. There are many players that I like.
“From that team, it’s difficult to say because I could mention a few – like Sekou Koita, Ousmane Diakite. I don’t like to talk about young players too early because it’s never positive to big them up too early. We will see what they do.”
Mali are set to participate at the Fifa Under-20 World Cup in Poland in May.
Frédéric Kanouté is working with UEFA Europa League partner Enterprise Rent-A-Car on their Legendary Journeys campaign. To discover more and to enjoy special rates on car hire across Europe, visit www.enterprise.co.uk/UEL