South Africa has big football talent but it needs to be nurtured - Frederic Kanoute

football29 May 2024 06:40| © SuperSport
By:Peter Kanjere
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Peter Kanjere

Spanish LaLiga and Mali football legend Frederic Kanoute has explained why South Africa and most Southern African countries are now hardly exporting players to elite clubs in Europe.

The former Sevilla forward commented on the issue on Friday during a virtual press conference, which the LaLiga Africa office hosted for selected African sports journalists.

The two-time Copa de Rey winner with Sevilla said the problem with South Africa and most countries in the Cosafa region was its inability to harness its rich talent.


"I know that they have big talent in South Africa but the issue is that it needs to be channelled and nurtured in the right way. They need to ensure that such talent is well developed in the right direction," Kanoute said.

The 2007 African Footballer of the Year noted that youth football development structures were weak in most Southern African countries, adding that this contributes to low football exports to Europe.

"I think this is the situation across Southern Africa. The solution is to keep working hard in youth football. I know a little bit because I am involved in Zambia football. I know the talent is huge but the level of youth football development is a little bit behind and that is why I am involved in a club [Kafue Celtic FC] in Zambia to develop the capacity of coaches, players and improve infrastructure," he said.

The 46-year-old had a stellar playing career in Europe, representing West Ham United from 1999 to 2003, as well as Tottenham Hotspur (2003-2006) and Sevilla (2006-2012). He then relocated to China to wind up his career at Beijing Gouan FC.


Kanoute, who won three Uefa Europa League titles, manages Zambian players such as Patson Daka of Leicester City. The Chipolopolo striker is alongside Burnley FC’s Lyle Foster, Lebo Mothiba (Strasbourg FC in France), Atletico Madrid’s Mozambican defender Reinildo Mandava and Luton FC’s Zimbabwean midfielder Marvelous Nakamba as the few footballers from Southern African nations playing for top teams.

Decades ago, South Africa had solid representation in top clubs in Europe with the likes of Phil Masinga (now deceased) and Lucas Radebe at Leeds United, Andre Arendse (Fulham), Quinton Fortune (Manchester United), Benni McCarthy (Celta Vigo/Porto), Aaron Mokoena (Blackburn Rovers), Nasief Morris (Racing Santander FC) and Tsepo Masilela (Getafe FC) among many others plying their trade in Europe.

Other countries in Southern Africa such as Zimbabwe were represented in top clubs with Benjani Mwaruwari at Portsmouth and then Manchester City, while Angolan Manucho was playing at Manchester United.