- In our series The Global Game, close-up on football in the Comoros
- The Coelacanths are close to qualifying for their first CAN
- A suprise ? Not quite, according to Captain Nadjim Abdou
There are successes more valuable than others. The one won by the Comoros against Kenya (2-1), this November 15 is priceless. It allows Coelacanthes to take second place in their qualifying Group G for the next CAF Africa Cup of Nations (tied on points with Egypt, but with a lower goal difference). If they have never participated in this competition or any other major tournament, the dream is now within reach.
“We are aware that it is starting to smell good. We will remain calm and focused because we will have to ensure the point that we are missing”, explains captain Nadjim Abdou at the microphone of FIFA.com. “But we should not shy away from our pleasure either. We have taken a big step towards the goal and it is something that you also have to know how to savor.”
We can understand it. For this archipelago of 800,000 inhabitants located off the east coast of Africa, in the Indian Ocean, this qualification would truly seem like a feat. Six years ago, the team was vegetating around 200th place in the FIFA / Coca-Cola World Ranking. Such a qualification then seemed unimaginable. And yet …
“My first selection dates back to 2010. At the time, the objective was to represent our country as well as possible and that was more or less limited to that”, explains Abdou. “Then we played with our weapons, our values, and we learned to get the best out of them over the years. Our trainer Amir Abdou put his paw on and gave a playing identity. We are now reaching maturity. It does not seem to me to be a surprise to see us at this level today. We just reap the fruits of what we have sown “.
Did you know ?
Amir Abdou was the coach of an Honorary Division team, the Entente Golfech-Saint-Paul d’Espis, when the Comorian federation approached him.
Unity is strength
Behind this promising selection, there is also an ambitious football federation which only joined FIFA in 2005 and which has worked a lot upstream. Its first mission is to bring together, in a country divided – sometimes diplomatically, at least geographically speaking – by four islands: Anjouan, Mohéli, Grande-Comore, Mayotte. This mission has been accomplished.
So certainly, there are no stars to speak of in this team. And all the players who make up this selection are binationals, most often born in France to Comorian parents, who play elsewhere than in the Comorian championship. But a wind of unity is blowing on this team and it is certainly one of the secrets behind this exponential progress.
“The selection is the perfect reflection of our country. It shows that there is strength in unity. It is made up of players from all four horizons. All the colors of our flag are represented. It makes unity,” adds the 36-year-old midfielder. “When the selection plays, everything stops on the archipelago. The dads, the mothers, the grannies, the grandpas, the children. Absolutely everyone is behind the national selection and expects that they are represented as best as possible. we can. In short there may be four islands, but there is only one team! “
The trip to the Comoros is long, but it is so worth it. The country is certainly poor, but the Comorians have so much to give. They are so welcoming, so humanly rich… Go for it! You will not regret it
And football is king on these four islands. A championship is contested there on each of them, even if the champion of the Comoros is only appointed at the end of a final tournament played between the champions of only three islands, namely Grande-Comore, Mohéli and Anjouan. But when it comes to Coelacanthes, there is no more competition.
“The Comoros are a small country, their love for football is on the contrary gigantic. I dare not imagine the joy that a qualification for the CAN would bring on the whole archipelago. It would be enormous”, launches Nadjim Abdou in as a conclusion. “By qualifying for the CAN, we would make a huge gift to our brothers, to these people who are waiting for that. We play for them!”