Mourinho said Cameroon, whom he described as having « more maturity and a better tactical culture », deserve to win the game (vs Ivory Coast) he witnessed. « They have more defensive solidity, make better use of space and have better rhythm. It is right that they go to Germany. »
I can’t imagine what African football would be like if there are better conditions for development
Chelsea manager Jose Mourinho
Chelsea manager Jose Mourinho believes the depth of talent in the African game could provide bargain buys for European clubs unable to compete for highly-priced players.
His club spent a record US$45million to bring Ghana midfielder Michael Essien to Stamford Bridge.
But the manager of the English champions said cash-strapped European clubs ready to make the foray into Africa could reap amazing rewards.
« Africa is a continent which continues to produce talent after talent.
« I can’t imagine what African football would be like if there are better conditions for development.
« For clubs without the financial strength to buy overpriced talent, it might not be a bad policy to invest in African football.
« The French clubs have good links in Cameroon, Ivory Coast, Mali, Ghana and other countries and they have not done badly from it. »
Mourinho, who was recently in Abidjan to watch the World Cup qualifier between Ivory Coast and Cameroon, is excited by the uncertainty surrounding the World Cup qualifiers in Africa.
The five teams representing the continent will not be known until the final rounds of qualifiers are played during the weekend of 8-9 October.
« I chose to go to Abidjan because it was a lot more interesting than most of the European groups where most of the outcomes are virtually decided, » Mourinho explained.
« I knew it was going to be an enormous game which would be decisive for the qualification process.
« The atmosphere was unforgettable. The game started at 4pm but the stadium was already full at 10.30am.
« After visiting the residence of the country’s president, I arrived half an hour before the start of the game.
« The fans in the stadium, on their feet, applauded me and sang my name. They all have Chelsea as their club. »
But with Ivorian Didier Drogba and Cameroonian Geremi Njitap having to be on opposite sides of what was a highly-charged match, Mourinho did not have an easy time watching the ‘war’ between his two players.
« My emotions were divided. On one side there was the country which has my Didier Drogba.
« On the other was Geremi and also the Portuguese coach Artur Jorge, for whom I have a lot of admiration and respect.
« At the end I embraced the winners and took part in their happiness.
« But I also suffered with the desperation and unhappiness of Drogba and his team-mates. »
Mourinho said Cameroon, whom he described as having « more maturity and a better tactical culture », deserve to win the game he witnessed.
« They have more defensive solidity, make better use of space and have better rhythm. It is right that they go to Germany. »
By Victor Vago & Nicolas White