African team can reach 2026 World Cup final - CAF boss Motsepe
FIFA President Gianni Infantino (R), Patrice Motsepe, President of the African Football Federation (L) and Augustin Senghor, President of the Senegalese Football Association and vice-president of the African Football Association (C) are seen during the FIFA World Cup Qatar 2022 Round of 16 matches between England and Senegal at Al Bayt Stadium in Al Khor, Qatar on December 04, 2022. Ercin Erturk / Anadolu Agency (Photo by Ercin Erturk / ANADOLU AGENCY / Anadolu Agency via AFP)
(AFP) - African football boss Patrice Motsepe told a press conference in Johannesburg on Wednesday he believes a team from the continent can reach the 2026 World Cup final.
"Morocco opened the door by reaching the semi-finals this month and I am confident an African nation will go further at the next World Cup," said the South African billionaire.
"The main objective of CAF (Confederation of African Football) is for an African nation to win the World Cup and that goal is within reach."
There will be nine or 10 African qualifiers for an expanded 48-team 2026 World Cup in the United Stages, Canada and Mexico -- up from five in Qatar.
Morocco made history in Qatar by becoming the first African representative to reach the semi-finals.
The Atlas Lions stunned Belgium in the group stage, then eliminated two more powerful European sides, Spain and Portugal, in the knockout stage before losing to France in the semi-finals.
"There are at least 10 African nations that can compete at the highest level and win the World Cup," added Motsepe.
He also hailed Cameroon and Tunisia for shock group victories over five-time World Cup winners Brazil and twice champions France respectively.
"We should be proud of what Cameroon and Tunisia achieved. These and other African countries must learn from Morocco," said the CAF president.
The shock victories were not enough to get Cameroon and Tunisia past the first round, but Senegal did make the last 16 before being eliminated after a heavy loss to England.
Reigning African champions Senegal suffered a massive pre-tournament blow when star forward Sadio Mane was ruled out by injury.
Motsepe disclosed that a dispute between CAF and sports agency Lagardere had been "resolved amicably", but refused to give details, citing a confidentiality clause.
Lagardere signed a one billion dollar (940 million euros) contract with the Cairo-based African football body in 2017, which was supposed to last until 2028.
However, just one year into the television and marketing deal, it was scrapped after two legal judgments said it breached competition rules.
A senior CAF official, who requested anonymity, told AFP his organisation would pay Lagardere 25 million dollars in instalments to settle the dispute.
Motsepe said Algeria, Benin, Morocco, Nigeria and Zambia were among countries wanting to host the 2025 Africa Cup of Nations after Guinea withdrew recently, saying they were "not ready".
© Agence France-Presse