The German team’s FIFA World Cup win has made them the new darlings of the global game. The team displayed exceptional team spirit, togetherness, and technique. It is important that African football teams glean lessons from the Germans’ journey to this mesmerizing level and think how the same model could be applied to help improve our own fortunes. No African team has ever made it to the four biggest and most recent football tournaments.
German football was plunged into a period of serious soul-searching after their team’s dismal performance at Euro 2000. As the reigning champions, they crashed out at the group stage with just one point and a solitary goal.
The following year saw a blueprint for the compulsory introduction of youth academies at all 36 professional clubs across Germany. A ten-year anniversary study revealed that more than half the players in the Bundesliga had come through the academy system, producing such talents as Thomas Müller, Bastian Schweinsteiger, Philipp Lahm, Mario Götze and Manuel Neuer. The players all chose to stay in their homeland, rather than seek greater fortunes abroad. A new generation of German footballers was born, one that saw clubs like Bayern Munich, and Borussia Dortmund surge to the forefront of European football, as well as Germany’s continued success on the international stage. Compare that to the fire brigade approach of most African teams; they only begin preparations on the eve of tournaments but expect magic nevertheless. Each country should take a cue from the Germans and invest more in vibrant football academies in order to reap the benefits in a few short years, as "Die Mannschaft" has done now.
54-year-old German coach Joachim Low, has occupied his position since 2006. This means he had enough time to bring about changes to the ongoing project and mold the team to suit his philosophy. Low admitted that the success he achieved wouldn’t have been possible without the support and belief of the FA . Compare that to African teams where some coaches are given one-year contracts and expected to perform magic. Projects take time and patience. It took Germany ten years to reap their rewards and I think African countries should learn from that.
Right mix of players
Over the past few years, the German squad has seen changes. Players move in and out of the lineup as Coach Joachim Löw figures out which players are worthy of his team. For the most part, the core of the German National team has remained the same.
Löw has consistently called up veteran players like Miroslav Klose and Philipp Lahm, whilst young German players were also being incorporated into the side. Over the past year, fans have been introduced to younger players like Marco Reus and Mario Götze. Essentially, the team has the right mix of the old crop of players and the future stars, which gives the team experience, leadership, energy, and the desire needed to succeed.
Nigeria’s Ramon Azeez was the only player from the amazing under-17 team which conquered the World, that was deemed fit for a call up by the Eagles coach, Stephen Keshi. Three or four other players from the under-17 team merit a call up, and the experience they would have gained would have benefitted the country in the long term. However, only Algeria and Ghana had the right mix of young and old players in their teams.
It is not a coincidence that Germany always hits top form at competitions. They played their seventh World Cup final yesterday, making that their fourth World Cup win. The Brazil game was their fourth straight appearance in the World Cup semi-finals, and their 13th in the last 20 attempts. Such a feat does not happen by chance.
Something in the ‘German psyche’ convinces the players that they have the strength to succeed, as well as an ideal temperament for tournament football.
‘We have an inner belief, not arrogance, that we are better than anyone else, but a belief that together we can be successful,” said Dirk Dufner, the sporting director at Hannover. “What we saw against Brazil makes it difficult not to believe that Germany can win the World Cup,” he added
This illustrates that the mind continues to be man’s greatest strength. You have to believe you can do it in order to have a chance at all. In Brazil, Self-doubt was evident in the performance of some of the African teams. We shouldn’t lack faith in ourselves simply because no one gave us a chance. We gave the big football countries too much respect, and we paid for it.
The blowup over bonuses that engulfed the Eagles, Black Stars, and Indomitable Lions camps, says a lot about our players poor patriotism levels. All the successful teams in the history of FIFA World Cups have been driven by the will to succeed, and love of country; one thing the Germans have in abundance.
“There is a great desire to play for the national team,” said Hannover’s sporting director. “Every German dreams of pulling on the national shirt, and will give everything when they do. It means the utmost to play for your country.”
“We recognize it is important to be a team. Are we any more passionate or patriotic than Brazil, or Argentina? I don’t think so, but we know when we stand together it works,” said Dufner.
The ability to wear your country’s colors should fill every player’s heart with pride, and his eyes with sweet tears. If that were the actual case, we likely would not hear tales of ‘bonus rows’ again. An African team would be on its way to being the next “Germany,” in the 2018 World Cup in Russia.