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By Sunday Oliseh
“Being a pro footballer without playing at the World Cup is like going to school without graduating”, said my friend, football legend Teofillus Cubillas of Peru.
Ghana, Africa’s best performers at the last World Cup, have been pitched in a complicated group to say the least and I cannot help but ask myself: Will this grouping be an obstacle in Africa’s route to progress again?
Nigeria and other African representatives have relatively better fortunes but the question that is worth pondering is this; is the grouping system why Africa is yet to play a historical, memorable part in a World Cup? Are there other reasons?
There are several factors that influence the fortunes of teams at the World Cup. The World Cup is the most advanced stage in world soccer and how well you fare goes a long way in deciding how the world views and rates your players.
This has a huge effect on the purchase and sales of players from these participating nations because it shows the worth and value of players.
LACK OF EXPERIENCE AT THE WORLD CUP
The first edition of the World Cup was held in 1930 and to date there have been 21 editions.
Africa first appeared in 1934 (Egypt) and from then until 1970 (Morocco) Africa was absent. The continent missed out on eight editions, with a total of 32 years absence.
Imagine the experience and opportunities Africa missed out on and the positive impact it had on the continents that participated and the negative effects it had on Africa.
How do you win a lottery if you do not play?
In a World Cup competition that has 32 participants, Africa has five representatives in contrast to Europe’s 13. That is almost three times the representation Africa has.
Obviously if, in a 32-horse race, you own 13 horses, your chances of winning are greater than if you own five horses.
In South Africa 2010, Ghana was on its way to a semifinal berth if not for unfair play by Luis Suarez to stop a goal-bound shot.
In the 70s and 80s we had often less representatives. Africa needs more slots. Thank God Fifa is effectively contemplating increasing Africa’s slots to six in the near future.
In its almost 100 years of existence, Africa has hosted this World Cup an alarming once.
We all know the proverbial saying that “a dog is bolder at home than on the streets away from home”.
Thanks to the introduction of the rotation system Africa got a chance to host its first World Cup in 2010 and I feel Africa did well globally. Had we hosted it as much as the other continents, especially Europe, we could have had brighter fortunes.
TACTICAL AND TECHNICAL DEFICIENCIES
If you really believe that tactics and technique are not the most important factors in winning the World Cup, then you are actually saying that it’s useless to plan to win.
Tactics defined in one word means “planning”. Failure to plan is planning to fail. A lack of high level tactics equals high level failure.
Africa has to improve in its tactical and technical abilities; otherwise success is only a dream at this level.
As the draws were coming to a close, most of the European and some Asian countries were catching the next flights to other parts of Brazil to confirm their accommodations for 2014.
Some of our African nations do not know yet for sure where their camping sites and training facilities will be.
This is worrying.
WHAT DO THE DRAWS TELL US?
Ghana can well qualify from the group of death. They have nothing to lose and have the players to achieve.
Nigeria needs to believe but not get “cocky”. Iran and Bosnia are not pushovers. Who says we cannot shock Argentina?
Algeria and Cameroon are in a group where they can decide their own fate by their first matches. A first-match win would throw their group in disarray.
So is Africa going to win the lottery this time? I wouldn’t bet on it but would welcome it like most of my readers. We have a brighter chance of getting on the podium and tasting some of the winnings come summer 2014.
We cannot do anything about the past. That’s why it’s called the past. The future is ours to influence. We should use the past to live the present and influence the future.
I feel like playing this lottery.
Leave your comments on Twitter : @sundayOOliseh … Article originally published on Supersport
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