The FIFA Confederations Cup Russia 2017 kicks off in just over two weeks, and the tension is starting to build, not only among the fans of the various successful nations set to take part, but also among the players who will compete for the prestigious trophy.
On Friday, the feelings of anticipation were most palpable in Cameroon, where the trophy made a stop-off as part of a tour of the eight nations represented at the upcoming tournament. For a few hours, Cameroon fans were able to view it up close, dreaming of seeing the Indomitable Lions bring it back home again in a fortnight’s time. That aspiration transformed into a memorable reality for Olivier Dacourt, who was part of the France teams that lifted the trophy in both 2001 and 2003.
Now part of the FIFA Legends team, the Frenchman is a member of the delegation responsible for looking after the distinctive piece of silverware during its African stopover. After witnessing the enthusiasm generated by the appearance of the trophy in Cameroon, he spoke with FIFA.com about his own triumphant experiences of the Confederations Cup and discussed the reigning African champions’ chances of emerging victorious in 2017.
FIFA.com: Olivier, how do you feel about the trophy being here in Cameroon?
Olivier Dacourt: There’s so much passion here, and we’ve been made to feel very welcome. You can see that the Cameroonian people have such an appetite for football; they live and breathe it. I’m glad to have come here with the trophy and let them see it.
From a personal point of view, what does the Confederations Cup mean to you?
It definitely brings back some great memories. France won it twice, and I was in the squad both times. It’s actually the last trophy won by France, when we came out on top in 2003. Since then, we’ve made it to two finals – the 2006 World Cup and EURO 2016 – but we lost both times.
What do you remember about the final versus Cameroon in 2003?
I remember France winning, of course. But there was also a huge tragedy: the death of Marc-Vivien Foe. Some of us had played with him; others had played against him. In the final, there was that moment of great sportsmanship, when Rigobert Song and Marcel Desailly lifted the cup together. But nobody was really thinking much about our victory that day. Just three days before, we’d lost someone close to us.
This year, Cameroon are back in the competition. How do you see them performing?
Well, they already pulled off a bit surprise, didn’t they? Most observers didn’t think they could win the Cup of Nations. They all worked together as a team, and it was a real feat, because there were some great nations in contention, like Senegal, Ghana and Morocco, who seemed better equipped than Cameroon on paper. You have to take your hat off to them because they had an excellent tournament. Now, they’re going to come up against some top sides at the Confederations Cup, but in football, you just never know. There’ll be some great teams and some brilliant matches. For me, Germany are favourites, along with Portugal and maybe Chile too – we’ll see. But the important thing for Cameroon is that they keep up their momentum.