Kabore’s century ambition

  • Charles Kabore captains Burkina Faso

  • His country’s most-capped player with 94 appearances

  • Aiming to reach 100 caps and grace a sixth Africa Cup of Nations

It would be fair to say that the green jersey of Burkina Faso holds no secrets for Charles Kabore. With 94 appearances to his name, he is the most-capped player in the country’s history.

Over a 14-year international career, he has seen almost everything with 'Les Etalons' (The Stallions), having participated in five CAF Africa Cups of Nations, including the 2013 final. The one notable omission, however, is a FIFA World Cup™ appearance, which the player admits he is unlikely to ever realise.

"For teams of the calibre of Burkina Faso, the chance to qualify might only present itself once every 20 years. And I didn’t manage to seize that chance when it presented itself to me," the defensive midfielder told FIFA.com, referring to the agonising defeat on the away-goals rule to Algeria in a play-off for Brazil 2014.

"That remains a huge regret, as that was my chance and I don’t see myself getting another one. That said, I’m very hopeful for the future of the national team."

In their quest to reach Qatar 2022, the team will once again be facing Algeria, as well as Niger and Djibouti during the second round of African qualifying. According to the player, however, those are fixtures that are unlikely to feature him.

"Burkina Faso must turn over a new page," he said. "The players of my generation have had their day and have represented the country well. A beautiful new generation is coming through, and they must be given their chance.

"There are a good number of talented young Burkinabe players coming through in different places. Besides Bertrand Traore (Lyon), there is Lassina Traore (Ajax) and Edmond Tapsoba (Bayer Leverkusen), to name just a few. They can get us to a World Cup – I'm convinced of it.

"In principle, it will be without me, because I’m not expecting to feature in the qualifiers. I haven’t given up on representing the team, though!"

While the player is still performing to a high level with Russian heavyweights Dynamo Moscow, the club he joined in 2019 after six seasons with Krasnodar, it is with the national team that he admits to having had his keenest emotions. And, at 32, he intends to experience a few more.

"Pulling on that jersey has always been a dream of mine – first chasing it and then savouring it afterwards," Kabore said. "As a child, I watched every game my country played. Today, I still relish the chance to be in contention and would love to participate in a sixth Africa Cup in 2021."

JOHANNESBURG, SOUTH AFRICA - FEBRUARY 10:  Charles Kabore of Burkina Faso during the 2013 Africa Cup of Nations Final match between Nigeria and Burkina Faso at FNB Stadium on February 10, 2013 in Johannesburg, South Africa.  (Photo by Ian Walton/Getty Images)

The captain's ambition is understandable, given that it was precisely in Africa’s premier competition that he enjoyed his finest moments with 'Les Etalons'.

"CAN 2013 is certainly one of my best memories," Kabore said. "We didn’t have an extraordinary team that year, but we made up for it with our immense solidarity. Contesting a continental final with that group was really beautiful! I also remember our great performance at CAN 2017, where we finished third while playing with style."

These two performances remain the country’s finest to date. Suffice to say, then, that Kabore, the leader of that generation of players, is already assured his place in the annals of Burkinabe football. Who is to say, though, that he will not acquire even greater legendary status in the months ahead?

"No Burkina Faso player has ever won 100 caps," he said. "It’s a goal that appeals to me and one I’ll do everything possible to achieve."