Morocco is the only African team that has come closest to winning a World Cup. In 2022 in Qatar, they reached the semi-final and became the first African team to go that far. Before that, Cameroon, Senegal and Ghana reached the quarter-finals.
That said, the continent is still waiting for its first World Cup trophy. This begs the question, why has Africa never won the World Cup?
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Corruption has brought African football to its knees. Those who’ve been charged with the responsibility of building the game squander funds. They meddle in team selections and constantly put their coaches in a tough position.
Some people in these positions don’t know much about the game but get their way because of corruption. African football is more about politics than the game itself; until this is sorted out, not much will change.
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African teams tend to hire foreign coaches to guide their national teams. This conveys that local coaches aren’t good enough to handle a national team. It also demonstrates a lack of development in local capacities.
Some foreign coaches who are possibly better use Africa as a stepping stone to bigger opportunities. At the end of it all, they get their pay and move on.
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It’s common for wrangles to emerge between African football teams and their federations in the lead-up to a World Cup. Players and coaches tend to demand their salaries and bonuses from their federations before the games kick-off. This is because of fear of not receiving their dues.
Before the 2014 FIFA World Cup in Brazil, Cameroon players refused to travel to Brazil until bonuses were paid. This forced the federation to take out a loan to pay the players. The Indomitable Lions were knocked out at the group stage.
Ghana has also faced the same challenges. They threatened to abandon their final group match against Portugal, but their federation’s last-ditch attempt stopped them. The federation president sent $3 million in cash via a private jet. Nonetheless, the team crashed out.
Sadly, African football leaders force players to go to extreme lengths to earn their allowances and salaries.
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Poor Planning and Structures
Africa produces great talents but it rarely benefits from it at the international level. These players are signed into some of the best clubs in the world and achieve great things. However, their success isn’t reflected in the national teams, mainly due to poor planning.
Nations that win the World Cup tend to begin their preparations early. They have a consistent stream of players who’ve been together and understand one another. For example, most players in the German World Cup winning team of 2014 had come together through the ranks to the senior team.
Mesut Ozil, Matts Hummels, Sami Khedira and Manuel Neuer played and won the U21 Euros together and joined the senior side. They were pivotal in their 2014 triumph. This is only possible because Germany has established structures that keep the records of players.
Most African teams lack such structures. Teams are put together before the World Cup. This means the players lack the chemistry and understanding to play together.
Will Africa ever win a World Cup? A lot of things have to change for that to happen. For now, we can bask in the glory of what Morocco achieved and prepare to do more.
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