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Strong African connection as France – Belgium clash in World Cup semis

Strong African connection as France – Belgium clash in World Cup semis


All five of Africa’s representatives – Egypt, Senegal, Morocco, Tunisia and Nigeria – crushed out of the ongoing 2018 FIFA World Cup in Russia. None of them made the knock out stages with a string of disappointing displays in their respective groups.

But there is reason for football-crazy Africans to continue following the competition with a certain measure of national / continental pride. This situation has arisen as a result of the African links of some players – who opted to play for a number of the remaining European teams.

At the semi-final stage of the competition – Croatia, England, Belgium and France remain in the race to be crowned champions. Incidentally, three of the four teams have players with African roots – France, Belgium and England.

The French team has about a dozen such players. There are eight in the Belgium side whiles England has two such – Delle Alli (Nigerian father) and Danny Welbeck (Ghanaian parents).

Indeed, during a visit to Nigeria, French president Emmanuel Macron said: France deserved Nigerian support with the Super Eagles out of the competition.

As the Super Eagles are no longer in the competition, please support the French Team in the Football World Cup! pic.twitter.com/RY6xxbLiJD

— Emmanuel Macron (@EmmanuelMacron) July 4, 2018

France has severally been referred to as the sole African country remaining and thus, the Les Bleus have also attracted the support of a number of football fans across Africa.

An article published by The Undefeated news portal said France was “the World Cup’s last ‘African’ team.” In reference to their tally of 12 players with African ancestry spanning nine African nations.

The standout French player in Russia happens to be 19-year-old Kylian Mbappe who is of Cameroonian and Algerian descent.

France’s Africa contingent at 2018 World Cup

  • Kylian Mbappe – Cameroon / Algeria roots
  • Paul Pogba – Guinea
  • Steve Mandanda – Democratic Republic of Congo
  • Blaise Matuidi – Angola / Congo
  • Ngolo Kante – Mali
  • Ousmane Dembele – Senegal, Mali, Mauritania
  • Nabil Fekir – Algerian
  • Samuel Umtiti – Cameroon
  • Adil Rami – Morocco
  • Benjamin Mendy – Senegal
  • Djibril Sidibe – Senegal
  • Presnel Kimpembe – Democratic Republic of Congo

Belgium’s Africa contingent at 2018 World Cup

  • Vincent Kompany – father from the Democratic Republic of Congo
  • Marouane Fellaini – parents from Morocco
  • Romelu Lukaku – parents from the Democratic Republic of Congo and father played for the national team
  • Mousa Dembélé – father from Mali
  • Dedryck Boyata – father from the Democratic Republic of Congo who played for the national team
  • Michy Batshuayi – parents from the Democratic Republic of Congo
  • Nacer Chadli – Moroccan heritage and once played a friendly for Morocco
  • Youri Tielemans – mother from the Democratic Republic of Congo


  • Footballers who have played a competitive international for one team cannot switch to another national side
  • But this rule has been relaxed to allow footballers to change nationality from junior to senior level
  • Friendlies are not binding – so Diego Costa was able to switch to Spain after playing friendlies for Brazil, as did Belgium’s Nacer Chadli after a Morocco friendly
  • Players with no blood connection to a country are only allowed to represent it if they have lived and played there for five years
  • But this is different for refugees, who can play upon receiving citizenship without having to wait to wait five years