Confederation of African Football, CAF, head Patrice Motsepe predicted on Wednesday that an African country will make it to the World Cup final in 2026 as he looked back on the continent’s productive campaign in Qatar.
The South African thinks that Morocco‘s trail-blazing march to the 2022 World Cup semifinals in Qatar has created a foundation for confidence and ambition going into the upcoming championships.
“I’m confident that in the next World Cup, an African nation will go further,” the 60-year-old said.
“The historic achievements of Morocco have made all of us in Africa uniquely proud. The future of African football is incredibly bright.
“If you look at the talent on the continent, there are 10-15 nations in Africa now that can compete at the highest level in the world and win.”
Out the 54 African teams who have participated in the competition, only Morocco has ever advanced to the semi-finals, fueled by enormous “home” support given Qatar’s proximity to North Africa.
Motsepe also remembered that the continent had previously won the Olympics through both Nigeria (1996) and Cameroon (2000) after Africa’s most successful World Cup ever (2000).
Motsepe, who is in Qatar for the championships, claimed that he is getting motivation from Croatia’s recent World Cup performances, a country in Europe with a population of just under four million people that has now advanced to the semifinals in three of its six World Cups.
“Given a nation of 3.5 million people can compete against Brazil, I’ll never accept that an African nation cannot compete at the highest level,” said Motsepe as he spoke in his homeland South Africa.
“These are proud moments for football in Africa, and the main objective is an African nation to win the World Cup – we have to believe, and encourage every young boy and girl, because it’s not just the men we want to win the World Cup, but also the women.”
“We are absolutely confident that the performance at the World Cup will serve as a significant stimulus and accelerator for the very good work taking place in increasing the quality and global competitiveness of African football.”
The head of Morocco’s football association, Faouzi Lekjaa, and King Mohamed VI received high appreciation from Motsepe, who said that Africa should take note of how much they invested in the sport in their nation.
He readily acknowledged, though, that very few of the continent’s other nations invest anywhere close to the same amount.
“The quality, growth and success of football in any one of the 54 countries is not what it should be,” he said. “There are a number of countries in Africa, but sadly not many really invest.”
As he has since taking charge in March 2021, Motsepe – Africa’s ninth-richest man according to Forbes magazine, with a fortune of just under $3 billion – stressed the importance of the private sector investing in football, and Caf’s continuing investment in youth and schools football.
“Johan Cruyff told me to invest in youth football,” he said, before hinting at a possibly-short reign as Caf boss.
“Part of my job is to lay a solid foundation. You don’t judge leaders exclusively by what they do, but by the continuity, success and progress when they’re not there.”
After unilaterally terminating the largest broadcasting agreement in African football history, Caf finally confirmed that it had resolved its differences with French media group Lagardere (now SportFive).
The choice was made when the African organisation was jointly run by Fatma Samoura from Fifa and the Secretary General was essentially seconded to Caf in an effort to sanitise the game.
The Lagardere deal was canceled during this six-month period, which came to an end when the Caf’s top executives voted against any extension, with the promise of better prospects down the road. However, the coronavirus severely dashed such aspirations months later.
“We can confirm that the dispute between Caf and Lagardere has been amicably resolved to the satisfaction of both parties,” he said.
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