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Sunday, 30 January, 2000, 12:07 GMT
When will Africa win the World Cup?

Pele, the most famous footballer ever, once said that an African team would win the World Cup by the end of the twentieth century. It hasn't happened. Why not?

News and Information for Africa
As the African Cup of Nations is demonstrating in Ghana and Nigeria, there is obviously no lack of talent. African footballers are constantly being spotted and bought up by rich European clubs. But why do African teams so often fall at the first hurdle in international competitions?

Your Reaction

I think it has to do with organizational skills - it's one thing to have talented players, but you also need talented coaches and managers to unify this talent into a cohesive unit on the field.
Dave Platt, USA ex UK

I think a lack of media coverage of African Football, plays a major part in the development of African football. Just today, I was watching football focus, they failed to comment on the african cup even though high profile players from England are participating in it. This internet site is the only evidence I've seen of any media coverage.
Ismail Mattar, England

No excuses are necessary to explain the collapse of African teams in Senior World Cup competitions. We are smart enough to adjust. I have absolutely no doubt that African teams are capable of winning the World Cup if they stopped buying early into the inflated projections of their success by the media. Nigeria lost in France essentially because they became complacent, looking forward to the final game before they got there. An element of luck obviously is needed. Remember Nigeria Vs Italy in USA-94?
Tony Chikezie, Nigeria/USA

African footballers are very talented and they can win the world cup, but the problem is that, they are not team players,The African home based player wants to be spotted by big clubs and the African/European based players are rich, so they do not have respect for their team or their coaches. For the Africans now, it's all about money and not the honour
Michael Odoemelam, Sweden

African nations soccer teams play for fun not for cups. This fact is so clear if you have watched Nigeria both at France 98 and Atlanta 96. Thus it is near impossible for an African nation team to win a world cup.
Jasim Qurain, Saudi Arabia

An African nation will win the World Cup within the next 20 years. The skilled players are there, but it is the footballing infrastructure that will need to improve in order to capitalise on success. For example, the profile of Nigerian players has increased since becoming Olympic champions in Atlanta. It is good that African players play abroad in different leagues and conditions, but the African footballing infrastructure will need to improve so that it is rewarding for players to stay in Africa to play football. If the infrastructure is right, retired African players will want to return and/or stay in football as club/country coaches, managers etc.
Kwabena Osayande, UK

I think with all the talented African players that are playing in the clubs around the world, there is a chance for the world cup to finally go to Africa, but Individual talents alone is not enough to win a world cup. Football requires a great deal of group work and this can only be achieved if players playing in Africa are being trained and care for if not the same level to a standard very close to player playing in Europe. This will help to get the right blend and mixture of talent in the in African national sides.
Amanuel Belayneh, Ethiopian in UK

The comments about Infrastructure and how professional leagues are is a red herring - Brazil doesn't fit any of these criteria either and they're quite good aren't they. It'll happen it just takes a descent team obvious but as Denmark proved when they won the European Championship, team spirit can conquer all.
Eddie, UK

Why do African nations always hire European coaches, many of whom have never been heard of at the top level of the European game. It seems to me that these guys are out to make a quick buck and have no love for the team or country. African coach, African style, African skill - in 10 years time, African world champions
Rob Moran, Ireland

Most African players are not committed when it comes to playing for their countries, such that they even would report late to camp. On the part of the administrators, many African countries are backward not only in football but in everything due to bad management of their otherwise enormous natural endowment including human resources. They have forgotten that a match is not only won on the field of play. When you fail to plan, you have planned to fail.
Pastor Stephen A. Olanrewaju, Nigeria

When Africa is given a fair representation at the World Cup, one of her teams will win the world Cup. I believe the level of play of African teams is at the same point as the rest of the world. Where our teams lag is in coaching, team play, implementing tactical options to maximise our strength and cover our weaknesses.
Frank Davies, Sierra Leone

An African country is capable of winning the world cup provided there is honesty and transparency in the management of football on the continent. It is sad to note when players rebel at the eleventh hour to a match to press home their demand for appearance fees, etc. This no doubt dampens morale and the inevitable happens.
Animpong John Dickson, Dili, East Timor.

Nowadays, football is an art and a profession. The question of when an African team will win the World Cup is just about time, as it is undoubtedly certain that the continent has the qualities and potentials in their players to win this major tournament. However, it is very important that in order to achieve such a goal, for African politicians to concentrate their effort in improving the state's situation by freeing the Football body to actually run the business. Only then, we will see the best of African football
Francis Tienga Ngale, Cameroon (currently in the UK)

We know that, to be a world champion, at least there is a need to have the love of Soccer and enough training. Africans love soccer as much as Europeans do, but the key ingredients are to have enough training and domestic competitions are missing here.
Kiros Araya, Ethiopia/USA

African Soccer is over-rated, especially by Africans themselves. No African country can field 11 truly talented players - Nigeria included. Africans first have to realise that they still have a lot of catching up to do before, then put in place programs or approaches to close the gap before they can think of winning the World Cup.
Anon, UK

Two reasons, directly related. 1). The majority of the African players are forced to adapt to the overseas game due to the inability of the local football federations to form feasible, professional leagues. As a result, they adapt to different styles of play and find it difficult to integrate these to a single style. This results in 11 players all playing their own brand of football, rather than that of the team. 2). As such, discipline breaks down, and an un-cohesive approach is the result.
Mark O'Shea, Dublin, Eire

I believe African teams are equal to the task of winning the World Cup. The problem is inferiority complex on the part of their governments and players. Their governments hire European coaches that in no doubt instils into the minds of the players that they are better at coaching than Africans. As the saying goes, blood is thicker than water. No matter how much a European coach loves the African team he is coaching, he will always prefer his "blood" country to win.
Henry Williams, Sierra Leone now in New York

A team is a team when they play games together more often, but a team is NOT a team when they only see each other in the last minute. That is what is happening to African teams. As far as individual talents are concerned, African players are one of then best. However, individualism won't work when it comes to major competitions such the World Cup.
Ahmed, Australia

The most important thing is if African politicians can allow soccer to be played without political interference as this as been the frustrating factors in past. Most especially Nigerian's can no doubt win the World Cup if only the government can allow the players to do their work properly without interference.
Yomi. A Fetuga, USA

A look at the African football shows that the players are very talented and most of them play or have already played at international level. Thanks to these players, African teams were close to the final in the last three Football World Cups. But they'd have done better if there were organisation, discipline and self-confidence in their teams From my point of view I think if politics didn't get involved in African football and if the officials try to sort out all the managerial problems, an African country will then have the chance to bring back the world cup home.
Thierry-Aime Yamga, UK/Cameroon

To win the World Cup, African teams need to administer football as a business first and put all the necessary infrastructures in place. FIFA must also rid itself of the idea that football belongs largely to Europeans and South Americans. I see the World Cup coming to Africa within the next four World Cup competitions.
John Okunowo, Canada

Give Africa a chance to host the World Cup and then ask this question. African teams should play more friendly matches against teams from Europe and south America. By the way, everybody is talking about Cameron and Nigeria, two teams are not enough to start thinking of winning the world cup very soon although there is only one team wins it every four years. Again, give Africa the chance to host the world cup in order to raise the football quality in more then just two nations.
Khalid Al-Saifi, Oman (student in England)

There is no question that African players have talent to win the world cup but the question is FIFA has already drawn a line that only a small number of African country can qualify for the world cup and it's always like that.
Abdiquani Kayton, Somalia/Canada

Football is a profession. Therefore African countries should adopt professional home leagues so that young players can have a sense of purpose/duty as soon as possible. To be serious about the game, it must not be played as a recreation as in most of our countries. Professionalism will also raise the stakes for everyone concerned and stem the constant government/political interference that is always artificial and counter productive. How can the politicians who have failed miserably to manage the economies and the countries be successful at running the football in which they never invested a thing?
NS Lamango, Cameroon (USA)

African countries have the material to win any competition, including the world cup, but they probably never will for a long time to come. Winning such competitions require highly technical team build ups, the type that could only be achieved by a team that has stayed together long enough, playing many tune-up matches long before the actual competitions. Unfortunately, most African countries do not have the money and the local leagues to enable them to organise such efforts.
Dele Adeyi, Nigeria/USA

It is unfortunate to say but there seems to be a lack of discipline. This in my view is brought on by government intervention in the sport. Arguments, money, team selection and coach selection are all factors that led to Nigeria's demise in the last world cup. On paper, with the exception of Brazil, they were clearly the best side. The moral is not to mix politics with sport.
Bruno, England

Financial constraints, inadequate preparation, political instability and persistent wars are among some of the inhibiting factors preventing African countries to excel in all forms of sports on the Globe.
Sinleh Samorah, Sierra Leone/Holland

Due to inadequate funding, African teams find it difficult to prepare adequately for major competitions like the world cup despite having talented players. Another contributing factor is that most professional footballers from Africa are not released in good time to prepare adequately as a team in readiness for the world cup.
A Macheso, Malawi

African players definitely have the skill and the ability to win the world Cup This has been proven by the performances of Nigeria, Morocco and Cameroon in the last world cups and Ghana and Nigeria in the Olympic Games and the world U-17 and U-20 World Cups. I disagree that the better African players are too individualistic and argue rather that due to the lack of time African nations get to prepare for internationals that the players are unable to develop a good understanding with their team mates so are forced to be more individual.
H Gyepi-Garbrah, Ghana

You will be shocked at the next World Cup finals when you watch two Africa teams play. But mind you this can happen if and only if referees do their work honestly, that is being free and fair. Officiating is the biggest problem in this game. Reflect on the performance of African footballers in the European leagues and this will show you the qualities they are made of. I will however not rule out poor management of African teams. Human beings as they are will definitely be wary of their own positions and future.
Joy Amegbe, Ghana

African's still lack the ability to galvanise the resources that will ensure a winning team. When the players are thrust into the football limelight, what is their motivation? Nigeria rightly know they are a talented team but should that bring about complacency and lack of discipline? The Nigerian players are one of the highest earners in the European game but it didn't prevent them from squabbling over relatively menial allowances at the World Cup.
Nkem Ifejika, England

In a world where sports in general has become a commercial event, young African players only think of the dollars and not the game.
Asaba Denis Nkengfoa, Munich, Germany
Africans should first believe in themselves, have confidence, play the game for the game's sake. The potential is there but in a world where sports in general has become a commercial event, young African players only think of the dollars and not the game. The Millas and Weahs played first for quite a long time in Africa before going abroad. But today, we have children migrating for money sake.
Asaba Denis Nkengfoa, Munich, Germany

Cameron's demise some years ago after their stunning success in the World Cup was a sad story but a poignant example of venality, greed and short-sightedness.
Mikael K, Sweden

The more you look at international competitions and how FIFA in its role as the world's governing body of football, strikes a balance between the needs of greedy European clubs and African nations, you get the picture. FIFA makes very little effort in ensuring African professional players based in Europe and the Americas are released by their clubs early enough to adequately prepare for major international competitions. African nations especially in sub-saharan Africa- in their horrible treatment of these professionals when they come to home represent their country and get hurt in the process, do not make this task easy.
Emmanuel Ndamukong, New York City, USA

1.The number of African countries participating the World Cup should be increased.
2.The African countries should be given an opportunity to Host the World Cup, as what is been given to other Continents - because history shows that the hosting country has a possibility of winning or even reaching a final stage.
3.Enough budget should be allocated to African countries - especially to youth teams.
Adrian K.M.Nyengella, Tanzania

There are two basic issues hampering African teams from winning the world cup: football management and poor finances. The individual players should be commended for excelling despite the African environment.
Ed Edet, USA/Nigeria

Considering all the odds against Africa, the continent has done very well. Europe has an unequal advantage in that more countries from Europe are represented in the competition. There has also been a history of unfair refereeing against African sides. Africa does not have the kind of money Europe has to encourage the game but is still doing relatively well as compared to Asian countries. In my opinion if each continent had an equal representation at the World cup Africa's chances would be greater.
Ade Ayonrinde, Australia

Pele's remarks at the heat Italia 90 should not be disingenuously taken out of context. He meant that an African side could win the senior World Cup in the near future. Nigeria beat Brazil to win the last junior World Cup - a feat still beyond the reach of England and Scotland despite their resources. A senior prize is within the reach of African and Asian sides provided FIFA improves refereeing standards, allows video playbacks for panel assessments of disputed goals and punishes referees with partial attitudes regardless of nationality. The current FIFA regime has both written and unwritten rules for the senior World Cup. The latter grant a "carte blanche" to refereeing officials to favour European and South American sides at the expense of African and Asian teams as France 1998 illustrated. Africans know it but have no response to this outrageous and ugly chicanery.
Mat Tezock, Cameroon (USA)

I have a problem with this question and find it offensive. The BBC is suggesting that African teams are not smart or not capable of wining the World cup. Why don't you ask when Asia or Australia is going to win? Rather than African teams?
Abdinasir Mohamed, Somalia

We will shock the world like we did in 1996 Olympic medal went in Africa and the world cup is next but wen that day comes I think a lot of people will have a heart attack. It will be remembered like that shocking moment like the one in Atlanta, Georgia.
Abdul Karim Hashi, student in USA

Africans will win the World Cup when they learn how to control the game effectively once they are winning. The first game that illustrates this is Cameroon vs England in 1990. The Cameroonians led 2-1 going into the final minutes of the game but sloppy defending cost them a victory. Similarly, in 1994, Nigeria lost to Italy in the second round of the World Cup when their play reflected the match was already won.
Daniel Fokum, Cameroon, (currently in USA)

The efforts of many national sides are greatly inhibited by politics, shambolic administration and gross under-funding. In addition, more and more African players are likely to become naturalised Europeans as they leave for highly paid contracts in Italy, England, Spain etc. at increasingly young ages. There is no doubt that the natural talent of players from the African continent rivals that of Europe or South America... we see this every 2 years at the Nations Cup. Something is still missing if a serious World Cup campaign is to become a reality. Nigeria had one of France 98s strongest squads, but they were blighted by the same old problems of team morale and administrative disorganisation.
Chris Finlayson, England

Cameroon will be the first African country to win in 2006. Guaranteed!
Yannick Mbandi, Colorado Springs, Colorado

It takes more than talent, it takes discipline and above all the determination to succeed. However, given the abundance of talent in Nigeria, if they hire the right coach who can instil enough discipline and hunger, Nigeria can certainly win the world cup in 2006. I'll bet on this.
Michael Nnebe, UK

If Nigeria had nurtured and kept the Olympic Gold medal team, Pele's prediction would have occurred in France-98. Politics was instrumental in the firing of Bonfere Joe - the attack minded coach. FA, FIFA and other confederations, should schedule times for International events to avoid the skirmishes with professional teams in the release of these players to their national teams for preparations.
Ike Nwagbo, Nigeria/USA

Why is the World Cup called the "WORLD Cup" if there are only 5 African teams, and 15 European Teams? How can Africa ever show its full potential by having to face restrictions not only from generally poor infrastructure and funding in their own countries, but also from the World Football governing body itself?
Mitesh Vashee, India / Zambia

When referees are no longer biased against African countries (e.g. Cameroon's disallowed goal at previous world cup), and when other teams do not conspire against African teams (like Brazil did in the previous world cup), maybe Africa will stand a chance!
Sorobhi Sorobhi, Zimbabwe

The main reason is discipline. When African nations reach the finals, their players seem to loose their heads and get themselves sent off. They do have some of the finest attacking and midfield players in the world, but defensively they are rash.
I Dave, UK

I think the problem is that African nations only have quality attacking players. When you analyse their performances you see that though they score regularly they also concede too many goals. Most of the African players in Europe are African players too
Shamim, UK

They don't possess all the vital ingredients needed to be successful on the world stage.
David Neilson, Scotland

I am afraid that it will be a long time before an African country can be considered good enough to win the World Cup. They don't possess all the vital ingredients needed to be successful on the world stage. What they lack in tactical awareness they make up for in tremendous skills and strength.
The main drawback I can see is the organisation from grass roots level to the very top. Admittedly, great strides have been made over the last 20 years, but organisation and infrastructure leaves a lot to be desired. The continent is too dependent on foreign coaches, many of whom can not get work in their own countries. Hopefully guys like Weah, Milla, Abide Pele etc can give something back to African Soccer in the way of coaching. Mind you I wish Scotland had the same problems because Nigeria, Morocco, Ghana etc are far more likely to win the World Cup than my own country.
David Neilson, Scotland

It's only a matter of time. The British are particularly arrogant in believing they are the best in the world. Anyone with their eyes open can see that those days are long gone in soccer. Africa has not yet had the opportunity and development.
If England had played Cameroon in 1966 they would have been viewed as a joke. Now they are a tough fixture. Why don't you ask the question, "Will a British team ever dominate the world again?"
Andy Brown, England

The lack of funds is a problem throughout the continent and as we all know Africa cannot afford to start pouring money into football.
Geoff Matatunisso, Uganda
The lack of well-organised professional leagues throughout Africa has hampered the consistent development of quality footballers. Only the very best go to Europe but what remains in Africa, although talented, is not a bunch of world class players.
Africa needs to turn professional in order to make an impact. This of course will not be easy. The lack of funds is a problem throughout the continent and as we all know Africa cannot afford to start pouring money into football, but instead needs its money for development, although professionalism still seems to have worked in other developing countries such as Brazil.
What Africa really lacks is competent administration, which is what truly hinders the development of the game. There is simply too much politics in African football. We need to be organised and work together to achieve the best possible results on the pitch. However I do feel that Africa has over the past three world cups improved significantly and that this will continue. Surely Africa will be a world cup winner soon as football develops. A sign of this development is the outstanding quality on show at the African Cup of Nations.
Geoff Matatunisso, Uganda

African Footballers are not patriotic behind their national sides like their European counterparts. Look at the African footballers trying to return to their club sides during breaks in the African Nations cup. Until this exploitation stops African national sides will never be a force to be reckoned with. The typical African story just a different arena.
Benjamin Tatenke, Botswana

Maybe Africa will win the cup in the next 100 years they don't have the skills of the Ronalados and Rivaldos just yet, however it would be great to see them do well in a World cup competition!
Kian Mokhtary (student), England

African teams fall at the first hurdle due to a very simple reason - adopting an unnatural foreign style of play foreign to their natural God given talent. As for whether Africa qualifies to host the world cup, the answer is a big yes. RSA successfully hosted the rugby world cup, is that not good enough? Nigeria went as far as the quarterfinals in the world cup, is that not reason enough? Africa has the infrastructure that is not questionable.
Zwelibanzi Masilela, Swaziland

Africa must come to terms with three important elements.
Coaches and Managers must educate themselves on the various aspects of soccer which includes game tactics, training programmes and management of players. Officials must stay in touch with the global developments and understand the importance of putting money back into development. Not every top class players qualifies to be a top coach. Period.
Facilities, hardly any of the nations can boast of having world class stadiums build only for Soccer. Players should have enough time and space to train on good grounds. Pay points are a huge problem in my own country which is regarded as one of the best developing nations in Africa.
Infrastructure players should have little difficulty to get to grounds, time travelling on the road should be reduced to the bare minimum. Most stadiums are without good shower facilities. Players move one club to another without any proper documentation.
Enver Buys, Westbury: South Africa

If only we can overcome the politicisation of soccer, then we can be rest assured of lifting the world cup in ten years time.
Goodwell Lungu, Zambian in UK
Africa has great potential in winning the world cup but has serious soccer administration problems. We often mix soccer with politics and confuse our players if not frustrating them. If only we can overcome the politicisation of soccer, then we can be rest assured of lifting the world cup in ten years time.
The issue of lack of resources does not really arise although it is quite crucial. Brazil is a good example of a footling nation which is not very rich compared to other countries like England but has been able to win the world cup on several occasions.
Goodwell Lungu, Zambian in UK

I think if they can give a chance to Morocco to host the World cup then it will be a good African opportunity, because if you got Morocco, Egypt, Tunisia, Cameroon and Nigeria on the other side you can expect a miracle. The potential is there we just need to implement it then the CUP will be ours.
Africa's got good players all over Europe if they can use the skills they have at home in Africa then there is no reason why cup cannot be ours. But we must use African coaches with Africa in mind not European coaches with Africa in mind - IT WILL NEVER WORK. If we are really hoping for the cup to be in Africa we should start now to prepare our own coaches to coach African teams for the World cup 2006 in Morocco.
Junias Kalimbo, Namibia

A major problem over the years has been poor preparation as many African Countries organise few friendly matches and go to their training camps very late. Moreover, many of the professionals display individual skills and hardly co-ordinate their skills as a team.
Sylvester Amara Lamin, New Zealand

African football is not quite the best because most of the best players like Kanu, West, Weah, and so forth are not exactly team players but more individual. The team has to evolve around them, which can be hard. More team play than individual play is needed in teams like Nigeria, Morocco and so forth.
Bismillah Choudhry, UK

I think that there is considerable pressure placed on the powers who decide where to stage a competition from the likely sponsors of that competition. One example of this was the World Cup held in the USA where Coca-Cola would not sponsor the competition if it was held elsewhere. I think that Africa will soon get the World Cup, but I think that to give the cup to Africa at this stage could only be for political reasons.
Benjamin Haworth, England

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17 Jan 00 |  African
Is Europe stealing Africa's best players?

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