EXCLUSIVE INTERVIEW: After 14-year wait, Velud finally makes TotalEnergies CAF AFCON debut



§  Velud making AFCON debut after long wait


§  Emotional first game ahead for a man so keen about involvement in African football


§  Velud shares special love for African continent


For Burkina Faso head coach Hubert Velud, his TotalEnergies CAF Africa Cup of Nation journey has been nothing short of a fairytale.

In a rare twist of faith, he finally gets to appear on an TotalEnergies CAF AFCON stage with the Stallions - 14 years after missing out through a series of strange events.


You came to Africa 15 years ago, after coaching in various French lower division, how has it been like for you in Africa?

This AFCON is special for Burkina Faso because Côte d'Ivoire is close to Burkina Faso. The two countries are like neighbors and all the players know that, so it’s special for us and the fans in general.


You qualified Togo and Sudan to the TotalEnergies CAF AFCON but couldn’t make an appearance due to an attack and be let go, you’re finally here, how excited are you?

In the beginning, I had some vibe with the African countries not specifically out of football but because of the love I have for Africans.

When I went to Algeria, I had some good results that made everybody love me. I am really happy to be leading Burkina Faso at the Africa Cup of Nations.

The road has been too long for us, we did a lot to qualify for the 2010 Africa Cup of Nations and everybody knows what happened afterwards. I had to wait for 14 years to make an appearance and Tuesday will be the moment.

Fourteen years of waiting and I am here to start from zero, I am lucky to be alive still, some people are still there suffering that cannot walk anymore, I need to take this moment and make the best out of it.


What’s your assessment of Group D where you have former champions, Algeria, Angola and Mauritania.

I knew the group was going to be very tough but after the first round of games I think it’s extremely hard now because the favorites are facing problems. Many of them are losing their first games so I’m concerned about that but together with the players, we will be ready for the game against Mauritania.


You have won numerous trophies on the continent; do you think the current crop of players in the Burkina Faso team have the mentality to win an AFCON?

Yes, we are in a tough group and we live like a family and you know we don’t have the best player individually like the others have, but the way we are living and playing, I think we can win the Africa Cup of Nations.


Burkina Faso have come close to winning the Africa Cup of Nations on several occasions, can you propel them to it?

We are always close but we fail to win, the team is trying to break that long jinx this time around. I know the group phase will be difficult but if we are able to go through, the rest will be like a cup game and I know how to play cup games.