Algeria’s lucky escape against Capello’s led Russia yesterday meant only two teams, out of the original five that came to Brazil 2014, would be progressing to the knockout phase of the biggest football event.
Since 1934 when Egypt became the first African country to participate in the FIFA World Cup in Italy, the continent has had little to smile about as far as the event is concerned.
In the 12 editions of the Mundial that African teams have competed in, it has only reached the quarter finals on three occasions. The Roger Milla-inspired Cameroun team did it in Italia 90, the industrious and compact Senegalese team of Japan/Korea 2002, and more recently, the Black stars of Ghana, who achieved the same feat and were really unlucky not to go further when the football extravaganza was hosted for the first time on African soil in 2010.
After the exit of Cameroun, Ghana (who were expected to better their impressive 2010 performance) and the highly rated Ivorian team which parades African biggest stars Former Super Eagles start Tijjani Babangida believes the problem with African teams is that they are technically naïve and keep creating opportunities for teams from other continents to beat them with ease.
The former Ajax of Amsterdam gave the verdict after yesterday’s Black Stars of Ghana 2-1 loss to Portugal, which eliminated them from the tournament.
Babangida who played for Nigeria at the 1998 World Cup in France noted that most of the African teams have exhibited technical deficiencies in the way they play against their more technically sound opponents from Europe and Latin America.
He said most times, African players “allow their opponents to mount too much pressure on them,” and in the process, they are forced into committing pedestrian errors that are instantly punished by their array of clinical finishers.
“What is happening is very clear to see? African teams are not technically sound and that’s where they have to improve. They allow too much pressure on themselves. Their more experienced opponents keep mounting pressure on them and they are forced to make costly mistakes”
The Taraba FC Chairman added that “For instance, against Argentina, the Super Eagles defenders were constantly under pressure. There were so many hard balls in between their legs and in the process, they could not conveniently deal with some of them.
“Meanwhile, the Argentines did not allow Eagles to make similar passes, they did everything to tackle our players in the midfield to cut off every attack,” he said.
Ivory Coast defender Kolo Habibu Toure who was seething after his team’s ouster from Mundial at the hands of Greece says the problem is African teams in tight situations don’t think deep enough
We gave them the stick to beat us, we gave them the match,” Kolo said in reaction to his side’s first round exit.
“We first managed to hold on, but all of us must defend. People often question Côte d’Ivoire’s defense, but we saw it again today.
“When there is thirty seconds remaining and you have gotten the needed result, your mentality must change, you must have eleven players within your own 18 meters.
“Unfortunately, this is the problem of the African teams, we don’t think enough.”
Africa’s participation could all but end on Monday when its remaining representatives, Nigeria, tackle a revived French team under the guidance of Didier Deschamps in Brasilia and Algeria renew their 1982 enmity with Germany in Porto Alegre in the day’s second game.