NAIROBI, Kenya, November 25 – Retired Chelsea defensive stalwart, Marcel Desailly has broken ranks with his former side and tipped London rivals Arsenal to bag the English Premier League (EPL) crown this season.
Speaking to Capital Sport in Nairobi on Monday, the Ghanaian-born French World and European cup winner also urged federations across the continent to structure their domestic leagues to act as feeders to the EPL.
“Arsenal probably, they can make it only if they maintain the good run, but I would like Liverpool to show up. They drew against Everton and I would like them to see their name on the trophy after a long time.
“This season is very interesting because everyone is on his toes and expecting something special or disappointment, I’m very pleased the way it’s going on because its boosting the significance of the EPL,” the father of four who is currently running his personal Charity Orphan Aid Foundation that helps abandoned children in Ghana told Capital Sport.
Desailly was in the company of the EPL trophy that made its second tour to Kenya as the brand ambassador of the competition he excelled as a defender.
“The people in charge of federations in Africa have to work hard on it because we have a lot of talent. We are talking about forming many academies that will raise the players both in sports and education to enable them become professional soccer players,” he remarked on continental football.
He however challenged other African countries to qualify for the next World Cup to stop the usual West African teams who make the showpiece regularly.
“I’m not too pleased to see most of the African teams that have qualified for the World Cup come from West Africa.
“I would like it to be spread a bit more and I will be happy to see teams from East Africa like Kenya or Ethiopia to come up, Cameroon, Ghana, Nigeria, Ivory Coast, all come from the same region, other teams should follow the example.”
“We hope this time an African team will reach the semi final. We need to work more, Cameroon almost did it, Nigeria was close and Ghana obviously everybody knows what happened in 2010 when (Luis) Suarez denied them in South Africa,” he stated.
Desailly who was a centerback, can only be described as the most successful player, having won all the major titles, the World Cup with France in 1998, Euro 2000, the Champions League with Olympique de Marseille in 1992, AC Milan (1994) and the FA Cup with Chelsea (2000).
“My only regret in my career was in 1995/96 when I lost the Champions League against Ajax after winning it twice in a row, and once again I was focusing on a treble, and this has really pained me up to date.
“There were good players who came after me, when Patrick Viera joined AC Milan, he was too young, he could not get position and play in the first choice, what is good he has been very serious in his career and made it in Juventus, Arsenal and Manchester City, I’m happy about him,” Desailly who described former England international Alan Shearer as the most difficult striker he has played against said.
The EPL trophy Goodwill Ambassador who will be in the country for two days, later conducted a football clinic at Ligi Ndogo Soccer Academy where he encouraged the players to be ready to sacrifice their teenage moments.
“The players need to work hard and respect the various element that football require in order to succeed, also there is education part, they need to know that at some point they will become entrepreneurs through their brand if they turn professional,” Desailly who developed through the football system in France, playing in Under-15, 17, 19 and eventually national team stressed.
The trophy arrived in the country on Sunday from Botswana before heading to South Africa which are the only African nations that it will visit, and continue to the Middle East, Asia and North America for the first leg of a three year tour.