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History has it that no African country has ever won the FIFA World Cup, let alone reached the final of this global soccer showpiece.

This uninspiring record will seemingly continue unabated when considering the performance of the countries representing the continent in the World Cup. As Africans we need to do a thorough introspection to identify the cause of the current state of affairs. I am an ardent football person who derives pleasure in interrogating every scenario that seems to affect the development of football, be it locally and/or abroad.

As the five African countries; Nigeria, Senegal, Tunisia, Egypt and Morocco embarked on a mission to conquer the world in the ongoing FIFA World Cup in Russia, one would have thought that our fellow Africans would make their presence felt, but lo and behold, they were eliminated in the preliminary stages once again. I was hoping that these teams would at least advance to the next stage, and further break their own records, but that was never to be as they failed to go beyond the group stages. Was it really difficult for the Africans?

What is it that we are not doing right, that has seen us as Africans struggling to compete against the best this world has on offer? Could it be due to lack of proper development structures to an extent that we can’t devise strategies that could aid us perform better in such tournaments? Are we really failing to match the standard of the countries from the rest of the world?

These are some of the questions we have to ask ourselves as we go to the drawing board once again, after a disastrous showing in the World Cup. It is high time we change our approach in as far as development is concerned, otherwise this continent will be forced to endure the painful experience of watching teams struggling to compete in such tournaments. We have to consider that participating in the world cup is not a walk in the park, hence it requires extraordinary determination.

A tournament of this magnitude is always associated with a lot of challenges in almost every aspect. Preparing a team to play in the World Cup is always an arduous task more so because not only the tactical acumen is to be prioritised but also many other aspects that directly or indirectly have an impact on the sport.

Painful to note is that most often those countries that qualify to play in the World Cup are the ones which we regard as powerhouses in the continent, hence their failure remains a bitter pill to swallow. Nigeria and Senegal came close to advancing to the knockout stage, after displaying a splendid performance in their earlier games only to crumble when it mattered the most. That is the story of Africa in the World Cup.

Comfort Jele

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