Just two weeks after the 2018 FIFA World Cup kicked-off, Africa is officially out of the tournament, with all five qualifying African nations failing to make it beyond the initial group stage.
The shortcomings of Africa’s best five – Tunisia, Nigeria, Morocco, Egypt and Senegal ÔÇô will now further prolong the continent’s long wait to see one of its own lift the World Cup.
The best Africa has achieved at the World cup is three quarterfinal finishes, courtesy of Cameroon in 1990, Senegal in 2002 and the most recent being Ghana in 2010. While the continent’s representatives at this year’s World Cup possessed massive talent in their ranks, the results on the field spoke otherwise.
While African teams performed fairly well, poor finishing and failure to perfect the art of ‘smash and grab’ have been pointed out as Africa’s Achilles’ heel. According to Botswana Gazette Sports journalist Bongani Malunga, the shortcoming of African teams is due to the fact that they sacrifice their own style of play in order to adapt to the tactics of their opponents.
He added that another factor was that African teams were not adventurous enough and they suffered as a result. “If they had attacked a lot more, they could have fared a lot better,” Malunga said. He further said Tunisa suffered against England because of their conservative approach, the same as Egypt against Uruguay. He said both teams were aiming for draws and conceded last minutes goals.
“I believe Senegal was Africa’s best hope and many teams would not have liked to face them,” he said.
As a way forward, comrade Malunga noted that Africans should learn to assert themselves more in games, adding that positional discipline is another aspect the continent needs to improve on.
“Most African strikers are not clinical in front of goals, this situation can be improved by deploying striker coaches’ mainly former players who are tried and tested,” he said.
The same sentiments were echoed by Mmegi Sports journalist Mqondisi Dube, who said African teams “did not play to their strength but that of the opposition.”