October 19, 2017 / comments : 0
Local football continues to enjoy flirtation with some of the world's finest footballers and expertise that comes with it after another legend of the game, Nwankwo Kanu of Nigeria, arrived in the country last weekend accompanying the iconic Emirates FA Cup.
The lanky Arsenal and Nigerian soccer legend flew in on Saturday evening from Lusaka, Zambia, with the prestigious Cup which is making its second tour of Africa. Kanu also had a chance to conduct a coaching clinic for Churchill and Prince Edward players at the latter school's grounds. The two-time former African Player of the Year (1996 and 1999) also had a chance to impart some vital advice to the budding young footballers.
The 41- year-old, a fine African footballer during his playing time when he won three FA Cup medals with the Gunners, was part of Arsene Wenger's "Invincibles" squad of the 2003/2004 season that went on for the entire campaign without losing a league match. Kanu made 10 appearances for Arsenal that season, albeit seven of them coming in as a substitute, scoring one goal in the team which Frenchman Thiery Henry was the star of the show.
Kanu also boasts of a UEFA Champions League medal, a UEFA Cup medal, the English Premier League title, an Olympic gold medal and is one of the high-profile retired footballers to visit the country this year. Brazil and Barcelona legend Rivaldo was in the country at the beginning of this month and he also had a chance to meet some Harare-based academy players and took them through important football lessons.
Other Barcelona legends Patrick Kluivert and Edgar Davids were also here in August. In the twilight of his career, Kanu later played with ex-Zimbabwe skipper Benjani Mwaruwari at former English Premiership side Portsmouth. He says they remain best friends with Mwaruwari and jokingly said he had to seek permission from him to come here. The former Super Eagles skipper has been here before, playing against both the Young Warriors and the Warriors.
"My friend, my best friend Benjani. I called him before I came here. You know you have to get permission from the legend, you can't just come into his country anyhow. He said 'yes, King you can go', I was happy but he is not here. He is in South Africa. He is coming here today or tomorrow. I am happy that I am here and this time around not coming to play football and go, but I am doing something that I love doing," said Kanu.
Kanu, who wore the Nigerian armband for 16 years, also spoke on next year's World Cup in Russia and some of the reasons which back-peg the African teams at the tournament. Nigeria and Egypt have already qualified for next summer's global showcase.
"Throughout the years we have been going there (to the World Cup) and we come back empty-handed. But if you ask me it is not about the talent, it is about the organisation. When you don't have a good preparation, when you don't have a good camping when what is satisfactory is not being taken care of, then it affects the team.
"So when African teams are there but they don't make it, it is not that they don't have talent. Right now we are going to 2018 Russia, so what we have to do now is to start preparing earlier and make sure all those little things that causes players not to be happy, fight and have problems, we try to solve them and let them concentrate fully on their matches, then one of the days, one of the African teams is going to be in the final," said Kanu.
Kanu said football has evolved a lot with the current generation now enjoying some finer aspects of the game which eluded him and his generation.
Kanu now spends his time running the Kanu Heart Foundation which seeks to save lives of the under privileged children and adults with ailments in Nigeria and other African countries.
"My career has been a good one, I thank God for what I have achieved so far, saving lives at the Kanu Foundation for less privileged kids who have problems. I won trophies but right now I am trying to help them and the foundation it is not doing bad. The Kanu Foundation has 540 people, so it means I have saved 540 people, for me saving only one means a lot and that's the greatest achievement I can talk about."
The Nigerian soccer legend also attended a dinner which was hosted for him by Emirates airline at a local hotel. Online. SPORTS
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