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Sports News
Kanoute keen for Uefa Cup start 5/15/2007
Sevilla''s Frederic Kanoute is hopeful he can put his groin injury behind him and play from the start in Wednesday''s Uefa Cup final against Espanyol.

The Malian international has had a long-standing problem with his groin but believes he has now recovered in time for the all-Spanish Uefa Cup final.

"I am well, I have rested and I hope to help the team," Kanoute told Spanish newspaper Marca on arrival at Glasgow airport on Monday night.

The 29-year-old is Sevilla''s leading European scorer of all time with eight goals, although just three have come in this campaign.

One of his eight strikes came in last year''s Uefa Cup final as Sevilla thrashed English outfit Middlesbrough 4-0 to win their first trophy in 58 years.

"Last year, I came on as a substitute - in the final in Eindhoven against Middlesbrough - and now I hope to play from the start.

"However, the most important thing is to win."

"If we are indeed favourites as some say, we will have to show it on the pitch where we will play against a great rival."

Despite his injury concerns, Kanoute has also added 19 strikes in La Liga - the Spanish league''s third highest scorer this season with four rounds left.

Sevilla head into the final as favourites and are bidding to become only the second side in history to defend the Uefa Cup - following compatriots Real Madrid in 1986 and 1987.

Victory would also put the Andalusian club on course to a possible Treble this season.

Juande Ramos'' side are only two points off the lead in La Liga and are also in the Spanish Cup final.

Yet the coach is wary of the threat posed by the Barcelona-based side in the Scottish city of Glasgow.

"Espanyol always make for uncomfortable opponents," said Sevilla coach Juande Ramos who coached the Catalans for a short spell at the start of the 2002-2003 season.

"Teams like them who aren''t the favourites are always very focused when they go into a final and that''s why so many upsets occur."

Walter Pandiani, the leading scorer in the UEFA Cup with 11 goals, leads the line for Espanyol, for whom Carlos Kameni is expected to sit on the bench.

The Cameroon goalkeeper tends to start league matches while reserve stopper Gorka Iraizoz has been given his chance in European competition.

Morocco''s Moha El Yacoubi is the only other African at Espanyol but is not expected to start Wednesday''s match, the fourth all-Spanish Uefa Cup final in history.





 
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