Did Africa go to 2018 Soccer World Cup to compete or participate?

With a shameful record from 15 games, resulting in 10 defeats, 2 draws and just 3 wins, the Motherland continent bows of soccer World Cup without tangible reasons

I can as well categorize competitors of the FIFA World Cup into two: the contestant and participant – former being the highly motivated competitor eager to lift the trophy. Then the former, a qualifier who enters the tournament with no winning soul besides the spirit of sportsmanship and involvement. He comes back with a smartphone with overloaded memory of assorted photo albums and World Cup fun

By Anthony Obi Ogbo

moments.

Certainly, this is how the competition process works. Winners or losers notwithstanding, all participants are valued and respected for humbly participating. However, after participation comes accountability. This is because the very basic aim of going into any contest is to win not to participate. Therefore, a deplorable losing record   is not what anybody wants to celebrate – not in soccer.

Going into this tournament, there were still hopes that Africa could beat her previous World Cup records. In 2014 FIFA World Cup in Brazil, two teams – Nigeria and Algeria – reached the second round for the first time. Unfortunately, Africa – the Motherland continent was submerged in a mind-numbing losing humiliation.

Out of 32, the continent took five countries (Egypt, Morocco, Tunisia, Nigeria and Senegal) to this tournament,   played 15 games, which disgracefully resulted in 10 defeats, two draws and just three wins before the entire squads were sent parking. Believably, this did not come as a surprise because the continent has been consistent with very poor records in the FIFA World Cup competitions.

Russia simply is a prolongation of Africa’s global soccer woes. For instance,  Egypt, placed in the weakest group in the tournament displayed no winning strategy until it slumped out. The team had bragged and relied on Mohamed Salah, described as one of the world’s best players. Someone might have told them that one tree does not make a forest.

Morocco’s demise added more salt to the injury for these North African soccer warriors did not win a single game. The team struggled in every game, even with Khalid Boutaib, the Yeni Malatyaspor forward named Best Player at the African Nations Championship earlier this year.

Africa’s low-spirited moments got even worse with Nigeria, which struggled and finally tripped off in Group D tagged the “Group of Death.” Duel involving Argentina, Croatia, Iceland, and Nigeria are obviously a tough battle zone. Yet, that should not be an excuse for substandard performance. In fact, Nigeria’s final loss – a game with Argentina unfolded their unpreparedness and total lack of competitiveness.

The remaining two teams, Tunisia and Senegal displayed good talents, but again, the occasion came down to either a win or a loss.  Tunisia struggled to advance from a challenging group that also included both Belgium and England whereas Senegal contested strongly in Group H with Poland, Colombia, and Japan, but could not advance to a second round.

Senegal indeed made Africa proud winning a first game – and the continent’s too, against a poorly composed Poland. It drew Japan 2-2, but lost to Columbia. The Senegalese defeat by Colombia was their first in a World Cup group game. Even as they exited the competition, it held Africa’s strongest record at the finals – with three wins and just two defeats from their eight games.

As far as Africa is concern, the 2018 FIFA World Cup has come and gone. However, it might be significant to ponder on why this soccer-loving continent whose players are scattered all over Western countries playing professional soccer, still struggles in every global tournament.

Let us bear in mind that sports departments and soccer association in Africa are either poorly funded, or run by corrupt and greedy officers who would fraudulently trade their mandate for greed. Currently, the African soccer fraternity has become a recruiting ground for foreign teams who tactfully take advantage of a vulnerable system overrun by terrible fraud and brain drain.  Even Chinese teams now go to Africa to recruit players to build their own professional league system. So how practicable could a continent unable to manage a professional soccer league system progress in the FIFA World Cup?

If the aforementioned issues and many more are not carefully addressed and thoroughly mitigated, Africa would remain incompetent sorry participants in the upcoming FIFA World Cup.

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■  Publisher/Editor ,  Anthony Obi Ogbo,  is the author of “The Influence of Leadership.” Contact >>>

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