An African nation will reach the World Cup final in 2026, Confederation of African Football (Caf) president Patrice Motsepe said on Wednesday as he reflected on the continent’s successful campaign in Qatar.
South Africa believes Morocco’s pioneering run to the 2022 World Cup semi-finals in Qatar has laid the groundwork regarding both belief and ambition ahead of the next finals.
“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.”
It is a bold claim given that Morocco, fuelled by an incredible ‘home’ support given the proximity of Qatar to North Africa, is the sole side to have ever contested the semi-finals, out of 54 African visits to the tournament.
However, after Africa’s most successful World Cup ever, Motsepe also recalled that the continent had previously won the Olympics – through both Nigeria (1996) and Cameroon (2000).
In Qatar for the finals, Motsepe said he is taking inspiration from Croatia’s recent World Cup displays, with the European nation of just under four million now reached the semi-finals 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 for 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.”
Motsepe was full of praise for Faouzi Lekjaa, the head of Morocco’s football federation, and King Mohamed VI, saying the duo’s role in significantly investing in the country’s football should inspire Africa.
Yet as he freely admitted, very few of the continent’s other countries invest anywhere near 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 taken 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.”