Semedo: Praia's artificial pitch solved everything
© FIFA.com

The President of the Cape Verde Islands Football Association (FCF), Mario Semedo, met with President Joseph S. Blatter at FIFA headquarters in Zurich on Friday 13 March. Semedo broached the subject of how to develop the beautiful game in his country and, after speaking with the head of world football's governing body, he agreed to an interview with FIFA.com.

FIFA.com: Mr. Semedo, what brings you to FIFA headquarters?
Mario Semedo: I'm in Zurich as a member of FIFA's Disciplinary Committee and I've taken advantage of that to meet with President Blatter. We spoke about football in Cape Verde Islands and I told him how happy I am with the help FIFA has given us to develop my country's infrastructure. You need to know that before 2000, we had almost no usable pitches and now we have 15 artificial ones. That's one per island with the exception of Brava, which should have one soon. Those pitches have made it possible for football to experience considerable progress nationally and in terms of the quality of the league championship. FIFA made a big contribution to those advances.

How would you judge your qualification campaign for the 2010 FIFA World Cup South Africa™?
We had a good qualifying tournament. We finished behind Cameroon, who were the big favourites. Before the start of the qualifiers, we were ranked third in the group (according to the FIFA/Coca-Cola World Ranking) and we managed to climb a place at the expense of Tanzania, who finished behind us.

So football is progressing in Cape Verde Islands?
Yes, and we hope to progress even further. We managed a draw in a friendly against Senegal a few weeks ago and we'll soon be facing Equatorial Guinea and Angola. Our Under-21 team is going to be playing a friendly tournament in Madeira against Portugal, Madeira and Finland. Youth football is developing in Cape Verde and we have academies as well as training centres. All the country's sporting authorities have woken up to the importance of youth development.

You have also benefited from the 'Win in Africa with Africa' initiative. Could you tell us how exactly?
The 'Win in Africa with Africa' programme made it possible for us to have a high-quality artificial pitch in Praia, the capital. We'd had problems with infrastructure on the island for ages, but now the headache is over; the pitch solved everything. Everyone is happy - players, officials and the league.