By Karen Duarte
By Karen Duarte
Rabat- The 32-year-old Frenchman Manuel Da Costa opted to play for the Moroccan national team, the country of his mother’s birth, after playing on youth teams for his father’s homeland, Portugal.
Despite his partially Portuguese roots, Da Costa expressed in an exclusive FIFA.com interview that he is proud to represent Morocco at Russia 2018. He also revealed that there might be a little controversy within his family when the two teams face each other Wednesday in Moscow’s Luzhniki stadium.
“Participating in a World Cup is something huge for me, as I’m representing my country and my roots,” said the player, who was born in France. “It’s a big honor to wear the Moroccan jersey because, when you participate in this tournament you are showcasing your country and culture to the world.”
Da Costa added, “I was first approached about playing for Morocco by assistant coach Mustapha Hadji. After a long discussion with him and the then coach Badou Ezzaki, I was convinced of Morocco’s plan and objectives, and since then have had the honor of representing the country.”
Da Costa is familiar with the way Portugal plays, especially since some of the current squad were once his teammates.
“I played with most of the players when I was young. It would take too long to name them all! However, I remember playing alongside Ricardo Quaresma, Cristiano Ronaldo and Pepe and learned a great deal from them.”
He is also aware of how strong a team Portugal is.
“They’re one of the best in the world, but we won’t focus only on Ronaldo,” he said. “We know he’s excellent and surrounded by good players. What’s more important for us, however, is to be focused, precise and have complete solidarity.”
While unity will be the Atlas Lions’ motto on Wednesday when they attempt to overcome Portugal, feelings will be mixed in the Da Costa household.
“I expect half of my family will support Portugal and the other half Morocco, which will be kind of funny really,” he concluded.
Da Costa seems to be eager and ready for tomorrow’s match as he posted a picture on Instagram wearing his Morocco jersey and captioned it “Come on guys.”