2014 World Cup: Is Belgium football’s coming force?

Story highlights

Belgium is considered one of the dark horses to win the World Cup in Brazil

Nation has one of the most gifted squads in football thanks to outstanding youth program

Can qualify for the 2014 tournament on Friday night with draw in Croatia

Dembele believes his side can do 'something special' next July

CNN  — 

One country, two languages – and one dream of winning the World Cup.

If Belgium is divided by the Flemish speakers who live in the north and the French-speaking Walloons in the south, the nation’s footballers are united with one goal.

And with its place at the 2014 World Cup finals almost secure, midfielder Mousa Dembele believes Belgium’s multicultural array of stars can follow in the footsteps of France’s 1998 winning team.

Like Les Bleus – a team which included players of African and Caribbean heritage – Belgium’s class of 2013 has a cosmopolitan feel.

Striker Christian Benteke was born in Kinshasa, Congo, while the likes of Manchester City captain Vincent Kompany and Chelsea striker Romelu Lukaku are both of Congolese heritage.

Then there is Manchester United’s Marouane Fellaini, who along with Tottenham’s Nacer Chadli and 17-year-old starlet Zakaria Bakkali is of Moroccan descent.

Read: Will Belgium win the World Cup?

Dembele himself was born in Belgium after his father moved from Mali – of which he remains proud.

And while the 26-year-old considers himself Belgian, he believes the ethnic mix within the team has made his time in the national setup a more enjoyable experience.

“We get on very well, I think,” Dembele told CNN ahead of Friday’s trip to Croatia, where a draw will be enough to clinch Belgium’s 2014 place as winner of Group A with a match to spare.

“It makes us strong. We have all kinds of players and perhaps you can compare us to the France side which won the World Cup in 1998.

“I think it’s fair to say we’re like them. Perhaps you could say we’re also like Germany in a way.

“With Germany, you can see there’s a real mix of nationalities in their team. I like that approach because I’m of mixed nationality myself.”

It’s a nuanced response from Dembele and contrasts sharply with the view of Arsenal midfielder Jack Wilshere, who said this week only English people should play for England.

While the Belgium players remain united, the team will often arrange separate interviews for Flemish and French speakers.

Arsenal defender Thomas Vermaelen will speak to the press in Flemish, while Zenit St. Petersburg midfielder Axel Witsel, whose father came from the Caribbean island of Martinique, will give his thoughts in French.