Sports News: Will an African team reach a first semi-final – or even win the World Cup?

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 Fans of Tunisia and Algeria

"When I started coaching the Ivory Coast, I told Didier Drogba:" We have fantastic players and we can go far in the World Cup . He said, "No, we can not."

Sven-Goran Eriksson attempts to shed light on why Africa is still waiting for a first World Cup triumph over 20 years after the Brazilian legend Pele, winner of the continent from here to the year 2000. At the end of the 2010 World Cup, the Swede understood that Drogba was not negative – just realistic

"The reason they do not do it? It was total chaos when I joined, "Eriksson told BBC Sport.

At one point, Pelé's prediction seemed to come true. Nigeria arrives at the top of a group featuring Argentina and Diego Maradona at the 1994 edition, while George Weah and Jay-Jay Okocha make their mark in Europe in the 1990s.

Yet, Africa, the second largest populated continent and a place where football is king, still has to produce a team to go beyond the quarterfinals – not to mention raising the gold trophy.

Egypt, Morocco, Nigeria, Senegal, and Tunisia later this month – but few believe that they will approach the final, including the old one Cameroonian defender Lauren.

"I could say we will have a team in the semi-finals but that's not the reality" double winner of the Africa Cup of Nations. "We are always behind the best teams."

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The change of power in Africa

None of Russia's five players are in the top 20 of the world rankings of Fifa and Peter Odemwingie, former Nigerian striker, says that African football has gone backwards.

"There has certainly been a decline," said former West Brom striker, Cardiff and Stoke, who played at the 2010 and 2014 World Cups.

"Nigeria had one of the best We won the 1996 Olympic Games by beating Brazil and Argentina with all their stars.

" This period was like "yes, it happens ".

But Nigeria, which will participate in its sixth final in Russia, is still waiting with the rest of Africa.

The three teams for the quarter-finals – Cameroon (1990), Senegal (2002) and Ghana (2010) – come from sub-Saharan Africa

But in Russia there will be more teams from the north than elsewhere on the continent, including a first appearance in 28 years for Egypt and a return after 20 years for Morocco.

A number of countries in North Africa have players who have learned their craft in academies. in Europe, but it is Morocco that arrives at this World Cup with the most born players abroad – seventeen of its 23 players were born outside the country

Odemwingie believes The game for North African nations is "smarter" by reading the game and also noted a physical difference. "It's as if Anthony Joshua was fighting Floyd Mayweather," he said in comparing a typical Sub-Saharan African player. Africa with a north. "The northern players are a little leaner."

"They always start the free kicks faster, they have the mental game a little more than the sub-Saharan teams."

Bonus Lines and Boycotts

At the 2014 World Cup, Cameroon, Ghana, and Nigeria all made headlines for the wrong reasons

Appearance they are due in Brazil. It was settled only when their government sent over $ 3m (£ 1.8m) in cash by air. Meanwhile, Cameroonian players have arrived late in South America because of a dispute over bonus payments.

The Nigerian Football Federation (NFF) and the country's players signed an agreement last November

Former Tunisian World Cup defender Radhi Jaidi believes that financial disputes are due to "unfulfilled promises"

"Players who come from Europe play for their country, paid at the hour by their clubs, they get bonuses, but that can be different when they play for their country, "Jaidi told BBC Sport

" People promise things and when they do not understand them, they are frustrated. "

Still, North African nations do not have to worry about off-field controversies, mainly because things like bonuses are sorted well before the tournament, according to Piers Edwards of BBC Africa.

"They are more organized and the responsibility is greater," added Edwards

Of course, the rifts of the World Cup are not exclusive to the & # 39; Africa.

refused to coach after Nicolas Anelka's expulsion from the team for verbally insulting coach Raymond Domenech, while the Republic of Ireland was shaken by the famous Roy Keane trio with manager Mick McCarthy in 2002.

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"It's Africa, It's Like This"

Eriksson was in charge of the Ivory Coast before and during the World Cup. World 2010.

He had a lot of talent to his credit. elimination, including forwards Drogba and Salomon Kalou, who had just won the Premier League with Chelsea, as well as midfielder Yaya Toure.

Yet the former English boss was encountering "a total lack of organization" group games in South Africa against Portugal, Brazil and North Korea.

"We played a friendly match in Switzerland and we went into the locker room and there were no shirts, no kit."

"I asked him where was the kit and it was told that it would come.

"An hour before the match, the man was not there. Forty-five minutes [before] the kit man came up with two huge bags and he put them on the floor of the locker room.

"All the players were in the bags looking for shirts that suited them." Hear: "This is not mine, it's yours."

"Just before the warm-up, one of the players came to see me and said," I can not play. "I asked," Are you hurt? said, "No, the kit man forgot my boots." The hotel was far away and he could not play.

"Drogba told me," Sven, it's Africa, it's like that. "

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The call for better organization is familiar to those who played and managed in the sub-Saharan region.

Patrick Mboma remembers the hopes of the 2002 World Cup for Cameroon even before arriving in Japan.

"The most important thing when you qualified, is that you have seven or eight months to prepare yourself," said the former striker of Paris St-Germain

"But you have leaders who think you can I prepare for a World Cup a month or two months before, it is still too late.

" In 2002, I thought we could qualify for the last four. Then it took 46 hours to reach Japan from Paris – so you can imagine how difficult it was. "

Preparations for the same tournament were disrupted by the dismissal of Henri Michel shortly before the tournament.

" They spent a few months deciding who would replace him. We did not win a match in Japan, "recalls Jaidi

Lack of national managers

Of the 44 African teams that took part in the 2018 World Cup in Russia , 30 Cameroon, qualified seven times as the best player of the World Cup in Africa, was led by four Frenchmen, two Germans and a Russian.

In Russia, Egypt, Morocco and Nigeria will be respectively trained by an Argentine, a French and a German.

The Scottish James McRea, a player from West Ham and Manchester United, set the tone for Africa's World Cup playoffs in 1934. Supporters had to wait again 44 years for a first World Cup coach in Africa, Abdelmajid Chetali leading Tunisia to the first victory of the continent in the final – a 3-1 defeat of Mexico.

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Click to see the contents: African_nations_world_cup_appearances

It was only in 2002 that a sub-Saharan nation made it to the final with its own coach – Festus Onigbinde, Nigeria's leader, Jomo Sono at the head from South Africa.

No African has taken his place European coaches are different because they can offer much more than the day, "adds Odemwingie, who can better prepare tactically rather than rely solely on on talent, what our coaches did.

"Now football has gone to sports science, nutrition … these are things that our coaches have never heard speak.

"We depend more on experienced coaches, but we have a problem because we are trying to develop our own managers and coaches."

Eriksson believes that the teams would be more successful if they followed the examples of Senegal – making their first appearance in the final since 2002 after appointing Aliou Cisse in 2015 – and Tunisia, who return to the tournament after 12 years. Absence of Nabil Maaloul in Tunisia

"What some African nations are doing is having a local coach during qualifying and if they succeed, they take a big name from Europe or from around the world. 39, South America one or two months before "

" They should take a coach and keep it for four years. "

" It would be much better because, even if you have good players, working with For a World Cup month, it's too little. "

Light at the end of the tunnel?

Morocco is in the running to host the World Cup in eight years

The North African nation is the only rival to a joint offer from Canada, Mexico and the United States for the expanded 48 final 2026 teams. A decision must be made Wednesday

Journalist and expert on African football, Mark Gleeson does not think it's beyond the possibilities to see Africa celebrate the success of the World Cup in the future.

"You will always have those rare moments when everything will click," he said. "Look at Turkey in 2002. It would have been an absurd idea before the tournament that they reach the semifinals."

And despite a lack of organization, infrastructure and finances, Jaidi is confident for the future

Recent changes have been made to the structures of 39, refereeing and coaching standards to try to strengthen the chances of African teams and, for the continent to succeed globally, it is necessary to chart a clear path to local success. the former defender of Southampton

"The problem is wider than the simple:" Oh yes, an African team will definitely win the World Cup, "Jaidi said." That's a complex situation is not just a problem or a problem.

"When African teams play at the World Cup, there is always a thought behind the head that we have no chance.

" We must build a base that supports young people African players who are now 10 or 15 years old to help them reach the highest standards. "

The Brighton and Cameroon defender Gaetan Bong even declared most of the basic facilities needed to s & # 39; improve in Africa.

"Sometimes you can not even play because the ground is not good enough," he said. "We need to develop more because we have a lot of talented players in Africa – but we do not have strong leagues. "

For all the problems that he has encountered with Ivory Coast, Eriksson hopes that the # Africa will celebrate "To the question of knowing where an African team is field Inevit of the world, the Swede said: "I do not know when but I think Africa will win the World Cup sooner or later. It's a shame because the interest in football in Africa is huge. "


World Cup Egypt Group A games
15 June: v Uruguay Ekaterinburg 13:00 BST
19th June: v Russia Saint Petersburg 19:00 BST
25 June: v Saudi Arabia Volgograd 15:00 BST

[19459] 032]

Group B Games of the World Cup in Morocco
] June 15: v Iran St. Petersburg 16:00 BST
June 20: v Portugal Moscow 13:00 BST
25 June: v Spain Kaliningrad 19:00 BST
Not available ]


Games of Group D of the World Cup of Nigeria
16th of June: v Croatia Kaliningrad 20:00 BST
22 June: v Iceland Volgograd 16:00 BST
June 26: v Argentina St. Petersburg 19:00 BST
Group matches of the World Cup of Tunisia
18th of June: v England Volgograd 19:00 BST [1945903] 9]
23 June: v Belgium Moscow 13:00 BST
28 June: v Panama Saransk 19:00 BST



Games of the Group H of the World Cup of Senegal
19th of June: v Poland Moscow 16:00 BST
24 June: Japan Ekaterinburg 16:00 BST
28 June: v Colombia Samara 15:00 BST

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Sports News: Will an African team reach a first semi-final – or even win the World Cup?

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