Central African Republic coach Raoul Savoy says football is unifying the country as it looks to recover from ongoing religious conflict.
The Swiss coach says people are enjoying the distractions of following the national team, the Wild Beasts.
“The national team are unifying the country,” Savoy told BBC Sport.
“When the Wild Beasts play, people think of something else. If we have good results, then we bring positive news.”
“If you look at stories the world’s press usually write about CAR, they’re always negative.”
The conflict has claimed thousands of lives.
“That’s why when we’re playing, it is not only about football but something more important,” added Savoy, who returned to head the Wild Beasts after an unsuccessful stint with the Scorpions of The Gambia.
The civil strife has also forced the national team to play many matches outside the country in recent years.
As CAR continues to undergo an internationally-supervised transition, national games are taking place in the capital Bangui once again.
The Wild Beasts will travel to The Gambia on Friday 23 March to take on Savoy’s former side, the Scorpions, in a friendly.
CAR see The Gambia as a similar opponent to Guinea, who they will meet in a 2019 Africa Cup of Nations qualifier later this year.
The match will serve as a litmus test for CAR in how they prepare for away matches, which Savoy says is a huge concern.
“Our last friendlies have been held away from home because we need better management of away matches,” said Savoy, who has also coached in Cameroon, Ethiopia and The Gambia.
Currently ranked 118th by Fifa, CAR leads Group H in the 2019 Nations Cup qualifiers after a home win over Rwanda.
The other teams in the group are Ivory Coast and Guinea, both of whom meet CAR in September.