Frédéric Kanouté says Sevilla FC are doing well to conserve their energy as they look to win both the UEFA Cup and a place in next season's UEFA Champions League.
The leggy striker has been a constant threat during a fine campaign for the Spanish club who have earned a first-ever UEFA Cup quarter-final, against Russia's FC Zenit St. Petersburg, while rising to fifth place in the Primera División. "We shouldn't settle for one competition," he told uefa.com. "We are doing well in the league and the UEFA Cup and we have to make the most of our position." Which is where coach Juande Ramos's squad rotation comes into play.
"It's logical that all the players cannot play all the matches, because it would be too hard to play on both Thursdays and Sundays," said the 28-year-old. "Javier Saviola, Luis Fabiano, Kepa Blanco and I can all play in the two striking positions. Personally, I'm playing a lot and the coach trusts me."
Rightfully so. Kanouté has proved a menace wherever he has played in an itinerant career. The French-born Mali international first impressed at Olympique Lyonnais before becoming something of a cult hero at West Ham United FC and Tottenham Hotspur FC, and then joining Sevilla last August.
So far, he has scored six goals in 27 league games in Spain, while also registering in the UEFA Cup with the opening goal in the 2-0 second-leg win against LOSC Lille Métropole that sent Sevilla into the last eight, 2-1 on aggregate. The draw reunited them with Zenit, who beat the Andalusians 2-1 in the group stage in November. "Zenit are a very good side at home," said Kanouté. "They have very quick players who can counterattack. I hope it will not be as cold in Russia in the second leg as it was last time."
Sevilla can ill afford to get caught cold in tonight's first leg at the Ramón Sánchez-Pizjuán, but results suggest the game has come at a good time for Kanouté and company. They have won three of their last five league matches, although they may be hoping not to be given any more penalties.
In a slightly farcical 1-0 victory at Club Atlético de Madrid last Thursday, they had two spot-kicks saved - one from Kanouté and one from Saviola - and Jordi López missed another in the 1-0 home success against fellow UEFA Champions League hopefuls Valencia CF at the weekend.
With first-choice penalty taker Enzo Maresca recovering from an achilles injury, they must avoid such profligacy against Zenit, although Kanouté could smile about the situation. "I don't know what's wrong, but the good thing is, we are still winning the matches where we miss penalties," he said.
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