Abdoulaye Kanoute, currently at Shabab Ghazieh in Lebanon, is on fire in the Alfa Lebanese League. The joint second top scorer along with the Argentinian Lucas Galan on 11 goals, Kanoute just cannot stop scoring. We at Ahdaaf bring you an interview with him on the life of a semi-professional foreigner in Lebanon. The Malian player formerly at Jeanne D’arc of Bamako is currently a member of the Malian Olympic Football team too.
*The interview was conducted in French, these are the translations.
How do you like the lifestyle in Lebanon, what do you do when you are free?
I like the lifestyle here even though at the beginning the adaptation wasn’t easy as a foreign player here, but I am feeling good there now. In terms of what I do, there is nothing special really! I watch TV, listen to music and I have some Lebanese friends who sometimes invite me to places and I meet other African players in Lebanon too! Among those players are the top scorer Michael Helegbe of Tripoli SC, Cheikha Sy of Nejmeh SC and another top African striker here, Cheikh Diouck of Nabi Chit.
Where do you live in Lebanon? The capital Beirut or somewhere in the South?
I am living in Ghazieh, where the club is based.
Is the league interesting for you? There are so many teams fighting to stay in the division (6 teams avoiding two relegation places with 5 games to go) and four teams fighting for the top two. Look at an example with your team who were fighting relegation just a few weeks ago and now are in 6th place.
Yes! It’s a good league and the level is increasing every year. A lot of people wrote us off and saw us as a second division team after a series of defeats but now we are fighting for the top five. Look at Al-Ahed’s (first place) performance this year, no one thought they would reach this level. This example proves that the league and other teams are improving and the title is increasingly open to many teams.
How does Asian Football compare to African football?
There is a lot of physical difference between both in terms of playing and in terms of mental effects too. Look at an example here, you cannot play for more than one team in a single season in Lebanon because they will consider you cup-tied or league-tied and this is the thing you will never see in Africa. The Asian Media also helps the Asian football grow a lot but another difference is the bad pay here. They don’t pay that well across some countries in Asia compared to Africa.
How happy was the team with the Haret Hreik municipality cup win? Did it show the country that Mr. Malek Hassoun (Shabab Ghazieh manager) is a success?
It was immense and the happiness was a lot here to be the winner. This of course proved his success but he’s been great in general. Especially since we came from 0-2 down to make it 2-2 and win on penalties.
What type of tactics does Mr. Hassoun like you to play? He is conducting a great job since arriving to Ghazieh.
His tactic is a very simple 4-3-3. His philosophy is that you have to be united on the field and playing with good movement on and off the ball to push the opponent towards playing how Mr. Hassoun wants. Mr. Hassoun changed a lot of things here and the players love him. During training he is rigorous and charismatic and I believe the city and club of Ghazieh deserves him as coach. It’s lucky for us that we have a coach like him as he can metamorphose the team’s approach to any game.
How close were you to Mamadou Dico? Did it affect you when his contract was terminated by the club? Many people in Lebanon speak French but it was key to have a Malian player besides you.
Mamadou is like my brother. It was hard to see him leave as he also lessened the workload on me as my strike partner. He had scored 5 while I scored 8 in the first half of the season.
How many times do you train a week?
6 days a week if we played on Saturday. We only get one day off because the coach thinks that work pays off, and it’s true. (NB: Bearing in mind that 6 days of training may equal to 2 or 3 European days. Players train much less in Lebanon due to having two jobs.)
Is the Lebanese League somewhere you want to stay next season?
I cannot say anything now as I have to wait until the end of the league season to see what happens.
Who is your idol?
The Brazilian Ronaldo.
How important is it to become top scorer of the league?
It is very important but nothing comes over the team. I will not ruin the style of the team to score for myself and win the personal title. But Incha Allah (God willing) I will win it as I know the team wants to help me become the best scorer in the league.
How is it a dream for you to play for the Eagles of Mali?
Everything is in its time and step by step I will hopefully reach there. Incha Allah we will win the CAF U-23 Championship with Mali and qualify for the Rio 2016 in the end, my dream is to take this beautiful country there.
A huge thank you to @aboudiable for helping me conduct this interview!