Mourinho offers kind thoughts for an African country winning the FIFA World Cup

* I want to see an African country winning the World Cup. I want the world to see that Africa is equal to everybody

* I know I won’t be popular for making this statement but FIFA should make things fair by refusing to let players represent other countries

* This will make FIFA tournaments more competitive and not one sided

By Duncan Mlanjira

An opinion that was made in August before the Qatar 2022 FIFA World Cup kicked off — by one of Europe’s best coaches, Jose Mourinho — continues to trend with over 3,000 comments of support, when the Portuguese said Africa has huge talents but it is not representing their countries of birth.


African Football Generation posted on its Facebook page a statement that Mourinho posted on his own account, when he wished to see an African country winning the World Cup one day, saying: “I want the world to see that Africa is equal to everybody.”

“I know I won’t be popular for making this statement but FIFA should make things fair by refusing to let players represent other countries. This will make FIFA tournaments more competitive and not one sided.”

The ‘Special One’ — as Mourinho is popularly known — also believes that once FIFA took this suggestion, African countries would start winning the World Cups.

“Africa is not behind when it comes to talent,” he said. “They have the talent to win any tournament but their best players are scattered around the world — playing for other countries instead of their homelands.”

France 1998

France 2018

He gave an exam of two FIFA World Cup titles in 1998 and 2018, which were dominated by African players — “the likes of Zinedine Zidane (originally from Algeria), Patrick Vieira (Senegal), Claude Makelele (DR Congo) and Marcel Desailly (Ghana) are just a few of France’s heroes of 1998”.

“In 2018 they were at it again when Paul Pogba (Guinea), N’golo Kante (Mali), Kylian Mbappe (Cameroon) and others were instrumental in winning their second World Cup.

“On the other side of the coin, we must applaud those who decided to get back and be with their national teams — Didier Drogba (two-time African player of the year) Kolo and Yaya Toure (helped Côte d’Ivoire win 2015 AFCON); Samuel Eto’o (record four-time African player who won two AFCON titles with Cameroon); Mohamed Salah (Egypt), Sadio Mane (helped Senegal to win 2021 AFCON).

“South Africa also had players that could have easily opted to play for the European national teams, the likes of Benni McCarthy, Steven Pienaar, Quinton Fortune and many more,” Mourinho said.


Early this month, Complete Football 247 posted another Mourinho statement, that said the Portuguese’s success is always based on having an African striker.

“Without an African striker, I feel like I won’t succeed. My belief about African strikers started with Benni McCarthy at FC Porto where he scored more than 20 league goals to help me and FC Porto to win the Portuguese League title.

“In that same season, he scored very important goals for me in the UEFA Champions League that helped our careers to be well known in Europe by winning my first Champions League as a coach.

“From Portugal to Chelsea in England, I find Didier Drogba — he was a great African weapon to win with me an English Premiership. I wanted Benni McCarthy to join me to partner Didier Drogba upfront but at that time he was at Blackburn Rovers and he was the only hit man there.

“So they refused to give us Benni McCarthy — no matter the offer I put on the table,” Mourinho said, adding that after moving from Chelsea to Inter Milan — also badly wanting to win the UEFA Champions League.

With Benni McCarthy (right)

With Samuel Eto’o

With Didier Drogba

“But I only had two Ghanaian midfielders and that was not enough for me to win Champions League as I was dominating the league only. So I sat down and thought hard about having an African striker again.

“I approached FC Barcelona and they willingly sold me the best signing of my career, Samuel Eto’o and the same season with Eto’o, I won Champions League.

“From Inter Milan to Real Madrid, I had all talents but the reason I didn’t win the Champions League is because I had no African striker. I tried Emmanuel Adebayor, but it was a loan move and Madrid does not like using loaned players.”

Mourinho opines that Brazil have “great strikers, but if you look at them they are of African origin. I always teach new coaches on my coaching facilities that you must always have an African striker in your team.

“Perfect example at Manchester United — they don’t believe much in African strikers, no wonder I didn’t enjoy much success there. Some strikers give you league titles but African strikers give you Champions League titles.”


In response to Mourinho’s assertion that France’s two FIFA World Cup titles in 1998 and 2018 were dominated by African players, Prosper Sambou said he doesn’t blame Les Blues “but the Africans who made themselves French” — with Jazzy Kraznoder saying “this hypocritical statement ought be said by an African coach” while acknowledging that “Mourinho has optimistic views”.

“But his opinion is almost impossible to implement because Africa is lacking in resource and home talent is wasted to Europe because the fathers and mothers of most players of African origin were economic refugees.

“So money works well to put Europeans on board of winning the World Cup. Africa on the other hand — because of corruption — will never win the World Cup other than be European’s representatives.”

Tolu Olijinmi observed that European countries that are making use of the African continent’s resources by nurturing and advancing their skills with high standard football facilities and strong tutelage to enjoy their investments — “especially if these guys are born on their soil”.

“Let African countries develop their own African-born players if they would like to win the World Cup,” he said, while thanking Jose Mourinho for his concerns.

African reps in Qatar, Cameroon


African champions Senegal



Isaiah Chayambuka opined that it’s all about “bad leadership” of “politicizing everything”, adding that when South Africa’s Bafana Bafana “were very strong under Clive Barker, the coach got fired for Frenchman Philip Trousseau just a few months before the World Cup”.

“They offered more than what was given to Barker who put Bafana where they were. South Africa went far under Barker. African politics destroy sports. Politicizing everything — tribalism and hate. If you are not one of them then you can’t be one. I’m not much into football but do follow.”

Acelandchaga Chaga agreed with Mourinho but added that if it was allowed that FIFA should impose his suggestion “so many talented player will end their careers poor because of tribalism, corruption, poor governance, bad leaders, poor  infrastructure, low wages, etc”.

Michael Agwogie observed that if the players Mourinho mentioned — Zinedine Zidane, Patrick Vieira, Claude Makelele, Marcel Desailly, Paul Pogba, N’golo Kante, Kylian Mbappe etc — “were playing for African countries, the motivation to win the World Cup wouldn’t have been the same”.

“The kind of motivation and treatment they get from the countries they represent, can’t be replicated by their country of origin. We hear cases of some of those football associations in Africa owing players match bonuses, we also hear cases of nepotism, sentiments and favoritism in selecting players instead of selecting base on qualities. Those talents could have wasted if not for the developed countries.”


Elisha Lombeh said: “All these is caused by poverty.  Every person will want to live better life and again African leaders only care about themselves. So, make the best use of any little opportunity you have.

“If African leaders will really fight to minimize corruption and think like the white man, then that will be possible. Until then, I don’t think that will ever happen in our days.”

While Thibedi Kwapa said it’s a personal choice on the part of the players, saying: “I have no problem with someone representing a country of choice. The same thing happens in athletics. Even some professionals like doctors leave their countries of origiin to seek employment elsewhere even when their skills are needed in their home countries.”

While applauding Mourinho “for courageously speaking out — even if the cheats will not take and work with his noble recommendation”, Henry Kpakol said: “African leaders and politicians keep Africa in absolute poverty — thereby making African youths and football players to look outside for a better life in all things.

“It will only take a radical person to end some of the things going on in Africa that causes the misfortune of Africans youths from generation to generation. I only view this from poor governance and administration in across African countries.”

While all this debate was made well before the kick off of the Qatar 2022 World Cup, Breel Embolo — who was born in Cameroon — went on to be vilified and scorned by Cameroonians after he became the first player in FIFA World Cup history to score a goal for his adopted country against his country of birth, when his lone goal saw Switzerland beat Cameroon last week.

He was born on February 14, 1997 in the Cameroonian capital Yaoundé and that his parents separated when he was very young and when he was five or six years old, his mother moved to France to attend school where she met her future husband, a Swiss national and the young Breel received Swiss citizenship on December 12, 2014.

The crowd waited and watched for Embolo’s reaction after he scored his 12th goal for Switzerland in the 48th-minute off a low pass from Xherdan Shaqiri but he stood still in the goalmouth and first held his arms out wide, then raised his hands in a gesture of apology.

He put his hands over his month as if realizing how profound the moment was as his Swiss teammates rushed toward him near the penalty spot.

Embolo then pointed toward the Swiss fans behind the goal where he had scored, and then to the Cameroon fans at the opposite corner of Al Janoub Stadium.

In his reaction, coach Rigobert Song, who played in four World Cups for his home country, told the media after the match: “I would have liked him to be on my side, but that’s not the way it went.”

Timothy Weah

Another player trending well in Qatar for scoring for his adopted country, is 22-year-old
Timothy Tarpeh Weah — son to former professional soccer player, Ballon d’Or winner and President of Liberia, George Weah.

Timothy scored the all-important goal for USA in the 1-1 draw on Monday and it was notable for two reasons — it was USA’s first in World Cup play since 2014 and it came in front of his celebrated father, George, the 1995 Ballon d’Or winner, who never played on this biggest football stage.