Oh Africa!

2014-07-01 07:40

The FIFA World Cup has been exhilarating to say the least. We have seen the rise of new talent and lucky for us, the big stars stepping up to inspire their countries to victory or restricting a thrashing. We have seen Cristiano struggle to keep his Portugal side in the mix (in all honesty, the Portuguese side was awful) and Lionel Messi try too hard to score but eventually getting a couple of goals thus far. Two African sides made the continent proud by qualifying for the last 16. Although the joy of having African representatives was short-lived as Algeria and Nigeria lost to Germany and France respectively. So what is our problem, as Africa, when it comes to the world stage? Why can't we get to the semi-finals or even win the thing?

The African continent has probably got some of the best footballing talent in the world but fail to put it together when it comes to the World Cup. We can start off with the elephant in the room, wage disputes. We have heard this issue at every World Cup in the modern era. To be honest with you, I believe that in some instances we are only exposed to what the media gives us. We forget that there is another party that is prevalent but overlooked, the governing bodies. Some football governing bodies backtrack on promises made to players and thus getting players to go on strike. This is an area that must be solved, and as soon as possible.

We have players like May Mahlangu, Yaya Toure, Kevin-Prince Boateng, to name but a few, lighting up the respective leagues they are playing in. This shows we have talent on the continent. The biggest headache across the continent is administration or rather a lack of administration. Our youth structures are almost non-existent. One writer eluded to the fact that many of our African players are selected to go ply their trade in Europe but when they get there, they struggle to keep up because they have the flair but none of the basics. This becomes a big problem because teams are not patient with players who lack basic football skills. Basic skills contribute a lot to the tactical discipline of teams which most African teams need to get right. We saw at the end of the Nigeria match where they just lost their shape after letting the first goal in. Had they set up properly, they would have defended the Valbeuna cross and had an extra 5mins to force extra time, but that was not the case as they went 2-0 down to a rather lackluster French side. The Algerians were just not fit enough to keep up with the German side. Rias was amazing on the night and deserve a mention.

The Greek players (Yes, I know they are not African, but will get to my point) have asked that the bonuses that they were supposed to receive should go towards building a national training centre. This is something that needs to be done by African teams. Many of them earn Millions(rands that is) a year and do not really need the bonuses. What they should be doing with that money they receive for bonuses should be taken back to their communities and enhance or build facilities that will encourage young talent to play football. The current crop of players should become the custodians of a brighter African football future. Should this happen, in the next 20 years we can compete at the World Cup as well as keep our talent on our shores rather than having them represent France and other European teams.

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