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‘You never know what will happen’ – Zahibo upbeat about CAR’s World Cup chances despite Nigeria’s threat

17:37 BST 10/06/2021
Wilfried Zahibo
The Dundalk midfielder fancies the Wild Beast’s chances of qualifying for the football showpiece despite being pooled with the Super Eagles

Wilfried Zahibo is ‘realistic’ about the Central African Republic’s chances of qualifying for the 2022 World Cup in Qatar.

After failing at previous attempts, the Wild Beasts are keen to qualify for the global football showpiece for the first time ever.

However, they must negotiate their way past Nigeria, Cape Verde, and Liberia in Group C – with their first qualifying game against the Blue Sharks in September.

Despite failing to qualify for the 2021 Africa Cup of Nations, the 27-year-old midfielder sees a place in Qatar 2022 as a plausible ambition, while showing his support for the Francois Zahoui-led technical crew.

"The coach is doing a lot to change the mentality, to make people think that we can do it and to ask the federation to invest more and change the culture around football," Zahibo told BBC Sport Africa.

"For World Cup qualifying, we are realistic. Nigeria are obviously the biggest team in the group but the magic of football is you never know what will happen and of course, we want to show we can compete with one of the best teams in Africa.

"However for us, the goal is to qualify for Afcon in the next two to four years. We believe we can do big things together but it's important to remember that this project is a long-term one and we are still in the early stages right now."

The Central African nation has never qualified for Afcon, albeit, Zahibo is optimistic that his country can make history.

"We have to change the mentality because for so many years we didn't win anything or even compete in a good way," he continued.

"It absolutely motivates us to see these new countries playing at Afcon. There is a new generation, a new wave in African football, and we want to be part of that.

"Players like myself and Geoffrey [Kondogbia] are trying to be the bridge for Central Africa - helping those who play locally reach a higher level, to show that we can play in the Africa Cup of Nations."