Kethevoama: Major tournament with Central African Republic is my biggest dream
Foxi Kethevoama is Central African Republic’s most capped player of all time
His country has never reached the finals of a major competition
Now 34, he is determined to put that record straight
Since playing their first international match in 1974, Central African Republic have had few chances to show what they can do on the international stage, having never reached the FIFA World Cup™ or the CAF Africa Cup of Nations. Nevertheless, they have scored a shock win or two in the qualifiers for both tournaments, with one player in particular attracting attention: Foxi Kethevoama.
Born in the capital of Bangui in 1986, the winger, who stands 5’8 (1.73m) tall, has been through thick and thin with Les Fauves du Bas-Oubangui (The Low Ubangui Fawns) since making his international debut in 2002. Central African Republic’s all-time leading scorer with eight goals and their most capped player with 48 appearances, Kethevoama was the hero of the hour in two of the national team’s finest victories to date.
It was his second-leg goal that saw off Egypt in the qualifiers for the 2013 Africa Cup of Nations, while his brace against Botswana in the preliminaries for Brazil 2014 secured a first ever World Cup qualifying win for Central African Republic.
“I’m very disappointed that I’ve never been able to sample the delights of an Africa Cup of Nations or a World Cup,” the man himself told FIFA.com. “Even so, the happiest moments of my career have come with the national team, and that win over the Pharaohs is at the top of my long list. I’ll never forget it.”
A world champion joins the cause
Nor will the Central African Republic’s fans, who idolise the man who made those two landmark wins possible. “The Fawns are my life. I give absolutely everything I have when I pull on the national team jersey and the fans give me so much back in return. I can feel their appreciation. And I’ve been around for a long time too. I’ve been loyal to the national team for 18 years now, which has made me one of the leaders in the dressing room.”
The importance of Kethevoama’s role in a side lacking in experience cannot be overestimated. Though he has yet to feature in a major national team tournament, the wide man, who plays for Turkish club Balıkesirspor, is no stranger to European footballer.
The only other member of the Central African Republic line-up with a similar CV is Geoffrey Kondogbia, a FIFA U-20 World Cup winner with France in 2013. “We were lacking experience and quality and Geoffrey has both,” said Kethevoama. “He’s only brought good things to the side since coming in [in 2018].”
The ultimate goal
Another recent arrival to the national team fold is Francois Zahoui, who was appointed coach in 2019 and is hoping to breathe fresh life into the side, with qualification for the Africa Cup of Nations for the first time among his goals.
“What we really need is to get some consistent results together and to perform better away from home,” said Kethevoama. “That’s one of the areas the coach is working on. The problem is mental more than anything and it’s something we’re all going to sort out together.”
Central African Republic were nevertheless good enough to figure among the top 26 African teams in the FIFA/Coca-Cola World Ranking when the continent’s qualifying competition for the FIFA World Cup Qatar 2022™ got under way. Receiving a bye from the first round as a result, they have been drawn with Nigeria, Cabo Verde and Liberia in Group C in the second round.
“I’m really hoping to play a part in this qualification campaign,” he continued. “I’ve got the energy and the desire and my biggest dream is to see Central African Republic reach a major tournament. That’s what’s missing from my career. When I’ve achieved that I can start thinking about retiring.”