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Football

Vozinha and Cape Verde dream big

CAPE VERDE

Whatever you do, do not tell Cabo Verde’s first-choice keeper Josimar Dias, better known as Vozinha, that his dream is not possible.

While, of course, every national team starts African qualifying for the FIFA World Cup™ hoping to make it all the way, it is equally understandable that the continent’s more established sides are seen as the favourites to reach the 2026 showpiece – thanks to a weight of tradition and footballing pedigree compiled over decades.

Having recently turned 38 and with close to 12 years of national team experience under his belt, Vozinha understands all that. Yet, if the way he has forged a successful career in the face of adversity has taught him anything, the well-travelled shot-stopper feels he is well within his rights to tell FIFA that “now is the time” for the Blue Sharks.

Though drawn in a tricky group alongside Angola, Libya and African superpowers Cameroon, Vozinha’s lengthy journey towards becoming an elite custodian gives him the confidence to aim high. If he can make it to the top, despite having to swim against the tide, why should his national team not do the same?

“It’s been a dream since I was a child,” Vozinha told FIFA. “But, as we know, wherever you are in the world it’s pretty tricky trying to make it as a professional. Particularly when you’re living in Africa, and on an island.”

Cabo Verde is an archipelago situated nearly 600km off the west coast of Africa, whose official language is Portuguese. And with its geographical position already a complicating factor, the young Vozinha was handed further obstacles to overcome in his home city of Mindelo.

“I was one of the best keepers on my island but as a kid I was a bit small. Though I was the best, I didn’t get picked in trials because of my height,” he explained. “But over the years I’d see a lot of players leaving [the island of] Sao Vicente, mainly for Portugal as we’re one of their [former] colonies. As time went by my desire and my hopes started to grow.”

As did the player himself who, as if in response to the scouts’ lack of vision, experienced a teenage growth spurt. “I didn’t really shoot up until I was 16 or 17 years old. And then I grew a bit more after that. I’m 190cm now.”

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