Football Manager 2021: International Challenges to take on in FM21

The latest instalment of Football Manager arrives later this month, and FM fanatics are already thinking about what teams and what challenges to take on when FM21 is released.

We have already brought you an article about interesting club challenges to take on in your first FM21 saves, but now we are focussing on international challenges. International football is something that many FM players overlook when starting a new save, preferring to hone their skills in club football before taking on the role of a national team manager.

Over the years, there have been some famous Football Manager challenges involving international teams, and most are not for the faint-hearted. The majority of the international challenges created are aimed at the hardcore players, the players that are willing to spend a lot of time developing a nation and waiting for a good crop of regens to be produced before being able to get anywhere near to completing the challenge they have been set.

World Cup trophy

The San Marino Challenge, much like the Andorra Challenge, involves taking on both club and international management. The end goal for each of these challenges is to win an international tournament with San Marino or Andorra, impossible you might think. The idea with these long term saves is to over a club that is based in one of these nations, San Marino Calcio in Italy and FC Andorra in Spain. These two clubs produce regens from their countries, and your job is to make these sides competitive at the highest level in order to reap the rewards with their international counterparts.

These two particular saves might not be doable in FM21 due to the current status of each club side, as was the case for the San Marino Challenge in FM20, so instead, we are going to bring you a selection of interesting international challenges to consider in FM21.

It is important to note that when taking on any international challenge, you should always load up the league of the nation you wish to manage. If that isn't possible, you must load up a database that includes all players from that nation or you simply won't have enough players to choose from.

Make China a Dominant Force in International Football

As a country, China is of great importance in terms of industry, but as a footballing nation, they simply have not lived up to the expectations. Former players Li Tie and Li Weifeng enjoyed brief spells in the Premier League with Everton, and Tie now manages the national team while Weifeng represented his country 112 times and is the most capped Chinese player. We all know that the Chinese Super League has plenty of money in it, and they attract superstars from across Europe's major leagues. However, this influx in foreign talent still hasn't helped push the national team onto the next level, with China currently ranked 75th in the FIFA rankings (as of October 2020).

Your challenge is to develop China's national team either only by managing the country or also taking control of one of their top clubs, with the intent of winning an international tournament in the future. This, as with most international challenges, is a long-term save that requires plenty of patients.

Become the First African Nation to Win the World Cup

Egyptian football fan

Brazilian legend Pele once stated that an African nation would win the World Cup before the year 2000, but he was wrong. No African country has ever made it further than the Quarter-Finals of the World Cup. Cameroon made it that far in 1990, Senegal in 2002, and Ghana were the last side to reach the Quarter-Finals in 2010, but none of them have ever looked like going all the way.

Your challenge is to end this record and win a World Cup with an African nation, a challenge that is likely to take plenty of time to achieve. In terms of teams, Algeria, Cameroon, Egypt, Ghana, Ivory Coast, Morocco, Nigeria, Senegal, South Africa, and Tunisia often produce teams capable of qualifying for a World Cup, and some of the current best footballers represent these countries. However, none have a team that looks capable of winning this illustrious competition, and once again, you may need plenty of patients for this challenge, relying on high-quality regens coming through, which will certainly be the case, eventually.

Qualifying with Canada

Bayern Munich defender Alphonso Davies

Canada have only qualified for one World Cup in their entire history, the 1986 tournament in Mexico. The Canadians lost all three group games without scoring a single goal and haven't been seen against since. However, the country now has a new youthful look about it and possess some excellent talents. Alphonso Davies is deployed as a left-back for Bayern Munich but plays a much more advanced role for his country, while Jonathan David has a fantastic goalscoring record for Canada even though he has struggled since his move to Lille. Mix into the fold a young Liam Millar from Liverpool, Junior Hoilett of Cardiff City, Rangers' Scott Arfield, Jonathan Osorio, Samuel Piette, and Tosaint Ricketts who all play in the MLS, then you have a good blend of experience and potential.

Your challenge is to take this crop of talented Canadians and finally qualify for another World Cup tournament. You could also try winning some of the lesser tournaments the country participates in and raise the stature of the nation. FM20 eventually included the Canadian league in the form of DLC, and if they do that again this time around, then this challenge will be far more achievable. If you are willing to put in the time and effort, then you might even win a major international tournament for the first time in Canada's history.

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James Kelbrick

A lifelong Evertonian, James started writing for an Everton fan site in the mid-2000s and then developed his own blog covering football transfers from across Europe's big leagues before becoming a regular match preview and betting tips writer for Biggest Free Bets. James moved to Free Super Tips next, and then Racing Post, where he worked as a full-time writer for a few years, taking on extra responsibilities such as creating the schedule and assigning out work. Following that, James wrote for a number of websites including Fore Bet before joining Football Whispers in December 2020.