Sports It is time for Africa to break its jinx and win the World Cup

Sometimes it is hard to believe that no African team has been able to go past the quarter-finals of FIFA World Cup tournament,not to talk of winning it.

Maybe Africa will take solace in the fact they are not the only continent yet to taste such glory,with only the past winners coming from either the Europe or the South America.

Other continents more or less make up the numbers in the spirit of it being a global competition,but in actuality World Cups had always been about Europe and South America.

Or is it little coincidence that the continents who haven't won the World Cup yet accounts for the least teams in the competition?

No prejudice against anyone,it could be a factor though,because other continents might have a chance if it is evenly shared.

Nevertheless,South America and Europe the best teams of the lot,boasts of the best players and to put it plainly,they are way better technically.

Whatever happened to "physical strength" that African teams ought to possess,well power alone cannot do the trick,brain is equally needed to land the full package.

Isn't it disheartening that since Egypt became the first African team to qualify the World Cup in 1934, only thrice has the continent finished in the last eight.

Cameroon broke the cycle in 1990 and after twelve years, Senegal followed suit.

Eight years after,perhaps the most cruel of exits for African teams,Ghana lost out to Uruguay(Nigeria's second round exit to Italy in 1994 is equally in contention for the most heartbreaking of losses)

It was generally hoped that the last World Cup held in South Africa was the continent's ''Uhuru",considering that the competition came home,closer to African teams and with a huge fans-appeal from the continent.

But not only did six African teams flop,five exited in the first round of the tournament in South Africa,with the exception of Ghana who went the farthest.

There has been an expectation that one day an African team will eventually win the World Cup,it would be a dream come true for the continent,but it is still something that is hoped for. You know what it means to really hope for something?

Brazilian legend Pele once said that an African side would win the World Cup by the end of the 20th century,the continent is still waiting for the fulfillment of that prophecy. Noteworthy,Pele is not renowned for making accurate predictions.

Encouraging for African teams going to the World Cup is that some of the European powerhouses are not underrating them.

There is a general consensus that the weather in Brazil will favour the African teams at the World Cup,what about the tournament in South Africa four years ago you might ask?

"I think [African nations] may have a stronger chance than any of European teams to be perfectly honest because of the climate," England manager Roy Hodgson wrote in the programme notes for the game between Nigeria and Italy at Fulham last year.

The African Nations Cup tournament was previously held in even years and only until in 2013 was it moved to odd years.

Reason,with the FIFA World Cup played in even years,it is common logic not to host an international tournament of the Nations Cup magnitude in the same year.

The players are saturated and exhausted with playing top level football,that when it matters most,they fall short.

So it was a worthy move by the Confederation of African Football(CAF) to take the Nations Cup to odd years,in order to place the African teams on the same level of fitness going into tournaments like the World Cup.

Well moving the Nations Cup to odd years can't really do all the trick,can it?

It could also mean that African football has lost its soul,with so much allure for foreign coaches who infuse their philosophies on the teams they manage.

"African football has lost the spontaneity it had before with the influence of structured football from European coaches" said former Italian captain Fabio Cannavaro at a Nike event in Brazil on Saturday.

In an article by the Guardian,so many factors were adduced to Africa's shortcomings in Brazil,including lacking mental strength.

Africa has never had more than one African side in the knockout stages of the competition and John Barnes, who represented England at the 1986 and 1990 World Cups, believes that a mental tweak is required. “Africans must show the same desire and discipline when playing for their country that they do when
playing for European clubs,” he told SuperSport recently.

But the issue is more complex than that. African footballers have repeatedly come into conflict with their own football authorities, as Samuel Eto’o pointed out recently. “The only problem in Africa is our leaders, who do not respect us. Until we are respected, other (continents) will never have any consideration for us,” He told the Confederation of African Football.

Coach of Nigeria's Super Eagles,Stephen Keshi believes that African football has evolved and is now at par with their European and South American counterparts,although he acknowledged that lack of tactical discipline has cost the continent.

"If you look at most of the African players that are playing now for the African teams – the five African teams that have qualified for the World Cup – most of them are playing in Europe, playing against the same players as European players, South American players," Keshi told

"I think it's the same thing. The only problem, the only difference I think is the lack of concentration and the lack of discipline on the field. Tactical discipline, that is. If we could pay attention to our game plan and concentrate, I think we could do it because this is the same team that we play against week in, week out in Europe.
"Nigeria haven't won a World Cup game for a while. Why do you think that is? I mean, we’ve always had such great players. It’s because of a lack of tactical discipline and concentration" Keshi added.

But rows over bonus allowances with the football federations in the continent appears to be a major issue for African football.

For instance,the Indomitable Lions of Cameroon spent so much time quarreling with Fecafoot(their football federation) even refusing to travel to Brazil,until they eventually did.

It didn't come as a surprise that they lost their opening match of the 2014 World Cup to Mexico,that one wonders if they would have fared better against El Tri if the energy they used in quarreling was diverted towards preparations.

It appears the continent is impeding itself from winning football's biggest showpiece,because everything to succeed appears to be on ground,it is the assemblage not the self destruct button.

If there is a better time to make a bold impression on a World Cup tournament,it is now,and it starts with lifting the holy grail at an iconic stadium like the Maracana next month.
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