Friday 19 April 2024, 11:00

Drogba: “This competition will be very important for African teams”

  • Didier Drogba is looking forward to the 32-team format at the Mundial de Clubes FIFA 25™

  • The Ivorian believes it will be a great opportunity for African teams

  • He cites the example of TP Mazembe’s campaign in 2010

As fans of the clubs that Didier Drogba played for will certainly know – anything is possible when you have a world-class striker in your ranks.

Drogba only needed one season at Olympique de Marseille to cement his place among the club’s legends as his goals fired the side to the UEFA Cup final in 2004. He then won all there is to win with Chelsea, his crowning glory coming at the end of a turbulent 2011/12 campaign as the Blues upset the odds to overcome Bayern, in Munich, to secure the long-awaited UEFA Champions League title, thanks in no small part to the Ivorian’s prodigious talents.

These are just two examples of the many achievements secured on the back of Drogba’s flair and selfless play during a long and distinguished career at club level and with Côte d’Ivoire. As the spearhead of Les Elephants’ fabled “golden generation”, Drogba played in three editions of the FIFA World Cup™ and twice suffered shoot-out heartbreak in the Africa Cup of Nations final before seeing his compatriots lift the continental crown without him in 2015.

Didier Drogba of Ivory Coast puts his arm around Cristiano Ronaldo of Portugal

It is therefore no surprise that, when asked whether he would have liked to play in a tournament such as the Mundial de Clubes FIFA 25™, the first FIFA Club World Cup™ to feature 32 teams representing the six confederations, the FIFA Legend, who was such a fierce competitor, replied in the affirmative.

“I think it’s a great opportunity for clubs and for players to be able to compete at the highest level of football,” he said. “There’s already the World Cup, but the World Cup is only every four years and not everybody has the chance to participate,” continued Drogba, the first Ivorian to find the back of the net at the global showpiece.

“The Mundial de Clubes makes things a bit more recurrent, which means there is more competition, more games and more opportunities for players to be world champions,” said Drogba, who knows all too well just how hard and rare it is for top-level players to win such international titles, especially if they are not necessarily part of a world-class team.

“Imagine the feeling for someone who plays in Côte d’Ivoire, or in any other African country, to become a world champion in front of all the big clubs like Chelsea, Barcelona or Real Madrid,” said the man who led the Stamford Bridge outfit to the pinnacle of the Premier League and European football after working his way up from the French second division through hard work and sheer determination.

“This competition will be very important for the African teams because it will be an opportunity for them to show what they are capable of,” said the man from Abidjan, who believes that the tournament’s new format, based on that of the FIFA World Cup, will be a unique opportunity for teams from Africa to reach the top. Drogba cited the example of the “huge achievement” of TP Mazembe reaching the FIFA Club World Cup final in 2010, as the Ravens became the first team from outside of Europe and South America to reach the tournament decider.

The new 32-team FIFA Club World Cup, the first edition of which will be played in the USA in June and July 2025, will bring together clubs from all six confederations in a battle to become world champions.