Former Mali striker Frederic Kanoute says he wants to persuade Wolves winger Adama Traore to play international football for Mali rather than Spain. Traore, 24, was born in Spain and has played for them at youth levels but is eligible for Mali through his parents. He was named in a Spain squad in November withdrew because of injury. “If he is listening to me right now – I am heading your way, Adama,” Kanoute, who swapped himself from France to represent Mali said.
“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. “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 and their best showing at an Africa Cup of Nations came when finishing runners-up in 1972. Mali were third at successive Nations Cups in 2012 and 2013 but were eliminated in the last 16 in Egypt last year. They are joint top of Group A with Guinea on four points after the opening two rounds of qualifying matches for the 2021 tournament. They have back-to-back 2021 Nations Cup qualifiers against Namibia at the end of March. 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, scoring 22 goals. He was the 2007 African Footballer of the Year.