Kanoute to star in charity match
A full house at Sevilla's Estadio Sanchez Pizjuan is expected on Tuesday night as fans gather to show their appreciation for former star Freddie Kanoute, while also raising funds for African children, in the fifth annual 'Champions for Africa' game.
Kanoute will be joined by former team-mates from the Sevilla side which won six trophies in four years during the last decade, including Dani Alves, Adriano, Pablo Alfaro and Javier Saviola, to take on a current La Liga selection in the game, which is organised jointly by the Kanoute Foundation and UNICEF.
Money raised from ticket sales and an SMS campaign will be spent supporting UNICEF's African programmes for infant survival, with special attention to the prevention and treatment of infant malnutrition, and extending the facilities at the Sakina Children's' Village - an orphanage and school that houses 40 orphaned children near to the player's family home in Mali, funded by the Kanoute Foundation.
"I am really looking forward to seeing my team-mates, it is very important for me because I want to share this tribute with them too," Kanoute told the Champions for Africa website. "I really appreciate the affection of Sevilla's fans, who I want to salute, but for me the game is more important for what it can do for the children in Sakina who count on me a lot. The funds will be used to complete and equip the rest of Sakina and to take in and look after more orphaned children."
The Sevilla legends' side will be coached by current Rojiblancos boss Michel and also feature returning former stars Ivica Dragutinovic, Aleksandr Kerzhakov, and Julien Escude. The opposition 'Champions for Africa' XI, coached by former Sevilla coaches Manolo Jimenez and Manolo Cardo, will feature current La Liga players including Carlos Marchena, Gaizka Toquero, Dani Guiza, Jon Aurtenetxe and Iriney.
Veteran Sevilla keeper Andres Palop and many team-mates will also be present at the game, which is to be screened live on Spanish TV.
"I knew very little about him seven years ago, I did not imagine he was going to mark an era," Palop said at the official launch event last week. "Kanoute became a legend and a reference point for this club. He gave everything for Sevilla and now we must be with him."
This will be the fifth 'Champions for Africa' game, with Thierry Henry, Samuel Eto'o, Didier Drogba, Raul, Sergio Ramos and Sergio Aguero among the stars who played in previous years. The 2011 game at Valencia's Mestalla raised money for children affected by famine and war in Ethiopia.
Such work is characteristic of Kanoute, 35, whose playing career has been marked by a concern with issues not always shared by his colleagues.
In 2003, the France-born forward left then-Spurs manager David Pleat unimpressed by declaring that he would play for his father's homeland Mali in that year's African Nations Cup. At Sevilla, he caused a stir by refusing for religious reasons to wear a jersey sponsored by a gambling company, and was fined by the Spanish league after celebrating a goal by revealing a t-shirt showing the word 'Palestine'.
Kanoute has returned to Spain for the game from China, where he has scored once in seven appearances since a summer move to Beijing Guoan.
"I am settling in quickly enough, and beginning to get to know the city and the habits there," he said. "I hope to be able to enjoy my football and bring my experience to the club. And of course I hope to win another trophy before I leave football."