Africa ‘has a glut of talent’

2009-12-06 09:23

UNTIL African players

command regular places at their respective European clubs, African countries

will struggle to dominate world ­football.

This is the view of former World Cup-winning France defender

­Marcel Desailly, who believes ­African players have the potential to set the

European scene alight.

But he said their lack of action was their undoing and this

­impacted negatively on their countries.

The 41-year-old former France captain, with 116 caps to his credit,

believes African players must fight to play regularly and not just be proud of

wearing big clubs’ jerseys when they don’t play regularly.

Desailly said this hampered their countries’ progress in

international football – hence no African country has ever won the World


He said, however, all was not lost as many players were now being

exported to Europe, adding this would improve their chances of doing well on the

international stage.

The Ghana-born defender’s views cover the same concerns expressed

by Bafana Bafana coach ­Carlos Parreira, about South African players plying

their trade in ­Europe.

Of Bafana’s five players in the English Premiership, only Steven

Pienaar has been a regular at Everton when he is fit. Kagisho Dikgacoi of

Fulham, the Blackburn Rovers pair of Benni McCarthy and Elrio van Heerden and

Aaron Mokoena of Portsmouth have all been struggling to break into the line-ups

of their first teams.

However, Desailly has tipped ­Ivory Coast to do well at next year’s

World Cup as most of their players were regulars in different European


He said the likes of Didier Drogba, Salomon Kalou (both of

Chelsea), Yaya Toure of Barcelona and his elder brother, Kolo, of Manchester

City, were good exports who had made their mark abroad.

Their showing has rubbed off at country level.

“Obviously my first choice would be Ghana because I was born there,

but I think Ivory Coast has a good chance of doing well. When you look at teams

which have won the World Cup you’d see that their players are doing well at top

countries and this gives them an advantage over African countries as most of

them are second choice at their clubs.”

Desailly said there was no doubt that Africa boasted talent,

pointing out that it got lost in space before realising any potential.

“The talent and the passion exist, but African football lacks

organisation and until there are proper leagues in the continent, then nothing

positive will happen.”

He said he would be interested in what happened to most of the

Ghana Under-20 players who have just won the Fifa Under-20 World Cup.

Desailly said he would monitor their progress to see if they

followed the same path to reach the top.

“At an earlier stage young players have energy and want to prove

themselves, but I want to see what will happen to the Ghana team in the next

five years.”

Desailly knows the importance of hosting the event and says South

­Africa will have a good chance of upstaging many countries.

“The home support is very crucial in the World Cup and it worked

for us in 1998 when nobody gave us a chance.

 The Confederations Cup was a good

test for Bafana as they needed that kind of pressure and they coped well under

the circumstances.”

He cautioned against writing off his country’s chances at next

year’s event, saying they should not be judged by their standard in the


France struggled to qualify for the finals and needed a

controversial play-off victory over Ireland to book a place in South


Les Bleus have been drawn in Group A with Bafana, alongside Mexico

and Uruguay.

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