Football is very popular on the Cape Verde islands. You can find small football fields everywhere. On the beach, along a dry river or on a flat part of a mountain. Despite the fact that the country has only half a million inhabitants and it is the 30th smallest country in the world, Cape Verde is among the best football countries in Africa. The national football team of Cape Verde is nicknamed ‘Blue Sharks’ or ‘Creoles’. The Cape Verde team has risen from oblivion to the point where they have defeated countries such as Cameroon, South Africa and even Portugal. Since the last 10 years, the Cape Verde football team has been in the top 100 of the FIFA world rankings. The highest ranking has been place 27.
The journey from Cape Verde to the African football top
In 1975 Cape Verde became independent from Portugal. Since the independence, the first international football match took place in 1979. This game was played against the neighboring Guinea-Bissau which was beaten 3-0. In 1986, the Cape Verdean League became a member of FIFA (the international organization for football). Until the year 2000, the Cape Verdean national team was ranked 180 on the FIFA world ranking. The team had never qualified for the African Football Championship (Africa Cup).
As a former colony of Portugal, the passion for soccer was already there. Facilities and special programs were still missing. With the support of FIFA, the first grass fields on the Cape Verde islands were laid out. And projects were started to let the youth play more football. Since then, football is an even more important part of Cape Verdean sportsculture. Also good football players with Cape Verdean roots living in a different country, nowadays more often choose the national football team of Cape Verde. Previously, many players chose the country where they live, since the level was a lot higher. Think of top players like Nani (Luís Carlos Almeida da Cunha) who played for the English club Manchester United and played for Portugal. Or the Swedish player Henrik Larsson who played for the football clubs Feyenoord and Celtic. The strong development of the quality of Cape Verdean football over the last 15-20 years has resulted in high quality. The participation of Cape Verde in the African football championship in 2013, 2015 and 2022 is a historic highlight for the archipelago.
Performance Cape Verdean football team
Below you will find the most striking presentations of the national football team of Cape Verde.
In 2013, it was placed for the the play-off of the African zone. This was undone by placing up a non-eligible player.
African Championship (Africa Cup)
- 2013: 7th place (quarterfinals)
- 2015: 11th place
- 2022: eight finals
Biggest profit ever
Cape Verde – Sao Tome and Principe: 7 – 1 (2015)
Biggest loss ever
Senegal – Cape Verde: 5 – 1 (1981)