What Africa needs to do to win the FIFA World Cup

By Dr Sifiso Falala | South Africa

The FIFA World Cup is the world’s most prestigious tournament held after every four years with countries from all over the world competing against each other. Since the start of the competition 92 years ago, the golden World Cup trophy has been won by 8 different countries from South America and Europe. Africa, on the other hand, is yet to lay hands on the trophy and despite its great footballing talents born and raised in Africa and some are either born or raised in Europe especially France and England, the continent has never reached the Final of the FIFA World Cup. For France, 80% of their World Cup players are of African origin including their star player Kylian Mbappè whose father is originally from Cameroon, and his mother is originally from Algeria. Had players like Mbappè, Paul Pogba, Ngolo Kantè, Ousmane Dembele, Bukayo Saka, Marcus Rashford, and others represented Africa in the World Cup, Africa’s name could have made it to the FIFA World Cup history book of winners. So what does Africa need to do to win the FIFA World Cup?

1. Promote Administration of sport and football in every participating country, together with policies and operations that make it easy for the sport to thrive. Many African players gain exposure in countries with better administration.

2. General national competitiveness. Conviction by the people of that country that they want to and can compete against other nations. In Africa the idea of being free from oppression is more prevalent than the idea of competing. Sporting competitiveness is still at modest levels in many sports including soccer.

3. National unity and patriotism. Many African countries are factionalised on ethnic grounds with ambivalent fan support for national teams. Patriotism needs to be developed to drive passion, and improve team texture prior to tournaments.

4. Lack of financial incentives. African players perform on international stages where financial incentives are handsome. If the AU were to commit for example US$50 million to the African team that won the World Cup this would make a big difference. There is therefore also lack of continental resolve. Countries play individually, but are judged as a continent.

5. Youth development and competition. Africa needs to introduce an under 23 Afcon and to support talent development academies on the continent.

6. Coaches with international expertise. While it is commendable to choose local coaches, football matches are decided by small precision details. African teams need to consider coaches that have won at that level, and against European teams, against whom Africa struggles, for example coaches like Del Bosque, Arsene Wenger, Joachim Loew, among others.

All of these factors need to be at a certain minimum level together before Africans can ever win the soccer World Cup. Recent good performances by Morocco amplified the point made about international exposure. In addition, the Moroccan and Arab patriotism was at unprecedented levels, showing that the higher the cohesive cause the more likely that performances will improve.

Author: Abu Bakarr Jalloh

Abu Bakarr Jalloh is a Sierra Leonean content writer, author, Neo Pan-African and founder of The African Dream, an online platform for inspiring, positive and compelling African stories. Contact: abubakarrjalloh@theafricandreamsl.com WhatsApp: +23276211583