Seydou Keita

Ahram Online, Tuesday 17 Jan 2012

Mali's consistent midfielder


The Barcelona midfielder has been a regular member of Mali’s squad since 2000, featuring in five African Cups of Nations.

Frustrated at the national set-up and expressing his desire to concentrate on his club career, Keita turned down repeated call-ups from the Mali national team last year but was eventually persuaded by coach Alain Giresse to change his mind.

The 31-year-old, who has featured in three Nations Cup qualifying games since September, had a year to remember after helping Spanish giants Barcelona win La Liga and the European Champions League.

The 31-year-old was included in CAF’s three-man shortlist for the African Footballer of the Year award, which was eventually given to Ivory Coast midfielder Yaya Toure.

“I congratulate Toure on winning this feat. I am very happy to come this far. It is a great achievement for me and I hope to build on it,” Keita told the post awards press-conference.

Although Keita’s contribution with Barcelona lately has been restricted to some substitute appearances, he remains Mali’s most decorated player.

“Although we lack the kind of high-profile players of Ivory Coast for instance, we still have a strong squad which can compete for honours,” he said.

“Look at Egypt, they did not have superstars but they still managed to form a complete team.”

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