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BN Brazil 2014 Updates with Adeola Omitiran: Where Did African teams Go Wrong?



It has been an exciting and history-making World Cup for Africa. For the first time, two teams from the great continent advanced to the knockout stage (round of 16) of the tournament during the same World Cup. Team fights, suspensions and threatened player boycotts aside, Nigeria and Algeria gave a good account of themselves, despite succumbing to last minute defeats.

It was disappointing to note that both teams lost to more illustrious opponents few hours apart – leaving the continent struggling to make an impact on the biggest stage. We can argue that they played better than their opposition and possibly were dealt an unfair card to loose, but the finesse in front of goal of the Africans was poor.

Nigeria lost to France, 2- 0 and Algeria lost to Germany, 2-1, in overtime, and left Africa without a team in the quarter finals for the first time since 2006 (no African team, despite a history of dazzling players, has ever reached the semifinals). Five African teams qualified for the World Cup, with power houses like Cameroon, Ivory Coast, Ghana and African Champions, Nigeria making the list. These are the best teams Africa can offer at the moment and their performance still fell below par.

What are we doing wrong? What edge do European countries have over us? South American countries have players plying their trade in European leagues like we do, so what makes them better? Could it be their effective grassroots development programmes? Their standard local leagues? Or is it their efficient administrative structure and player packages?

At the 2006 World Cup, it was just Togo. Now, three of our African reps, including Nigeria, engaged in some player protest with their soccer federations over money. Riding on previous occurrences, these players are right to be concerned they would never get their allowances.

Cameroon started their roar before their team made the trip to Brazil – with the players demanding their appearance fee for the World Cup up front, in cash. Before their last group game against Portugal, players from Ghana refused to practice and threatened a player strike unless they received their cash. The next day, players from Nigeria also refused to practice and demanded for their appearance fees and performance allowances. Player versus federation spats over player allowances is not new in soccer. But that of the Africans is continuously rearing its ugly head and affecting our performances at international tournaments.

The suspension of two Ghanaian playmakers (Sulley Muntari and Kevin Boateng) hours before their game against Portugal, was no way to get the motivation of the players on a high.

It becomes clear as countries like Belgium are thriving on their youth development programmes that something has to change with the way we manage our soccer. Our local league has to grow with grassroots development at the forefront. In a competition that held so much promise for Africa, they are out.

Omitiran Adeola is a BSC Graduate in Mass Communications with news, sports & lifestyle journalism experience for over 3 years. As an avid lover of sports, she is living her dream of keeping the football world on its feet.


  1. Babe

    July 3, 2014 at 2:58 pm

    They (African teams, with emphasis on the Nigerian soccer team), at the world cup did what they usually do…start well but don’t end well. It really seems to me that all they are missing is a good honest PEP TALK, aka, SWAG! Because I no for sure that our guys CAN PLAY, they just need the confidence.

  2. nene

    July 3, 2014 at 3:42 pm

    african teams were plagued with corruption and incompetent football federations, which made players loose all enthusiasm

  3. Bliss

    July 3, 2014 at 4:07 pm

    First time? Cameroon was the first ever african country in the history of the World Cup tournament to advance to the quarter finals in 1990. Therefore, Nigeria and Algeria are not the first.

  4. rukee ojigbo

    July 3, 2014 at 4:24 pm

    how come we only choose to b negative abt tins….look @ d oda countries tht evn left bfr us…they whr celeberating as if they won a lottery…Tim Howard is nw a hero to americans….thr news agencies made such a big deal abt his saves….(forgetin tht if ur keeper is ur best player, it only means u hv a deficient team)…..yet we refuse to tlk abt enyeama….odemingwie…we refuse to tlk abt the fact tht our boys gave their best….in evry game thrz alwayz goin to be a winner….at certain tyms ppl play well and still loose….if US cn b proud of their team the way they are….if iran can celeberate… evn whn dey ddnt win a single march….if uruaguay can gv suarez a heroes welcom… I refuse to b negativ abt my team. Nig did well so did oda african teams….they gave their best!!!!!

  5. laila

    July 3, 2014 at 4:31 pm

    Well, wish our African boys could have gotten further but let us see what happens in Russia

  6. @edDREAMZ

    July 3, 2014 at 4:32 pm

    African teams wasnt focused at the game at all they were all concern about is the appearance money (or what ever it is) and that alone is a disgrace to africa as a continent bcos no other country is involve in that mess….

  7. mujer

    July 3, 2014 at 7:37 pm

    No techniques. Sports has moved from just roughing it out using jambody tactics. Now you need to sit ya ass down and study your opponents and how they play and position your game accordingly.

  8. Chukuebuka

    July 3, 2014 at 9:35 pm

    The Nigerian team were good at defending but were not good at striking. They lack experienced forwarders.

  9. Anon

    July 4, 2014 at 9:31 am

    This writer types a lot of inaccurate statements in her articles. How can you say it was the first time an African team got to the round of 16? Did you just start watching and writing about football? Please get your facts right. The other time you said Italians were 3 times champions.

    Mujer; spot on. Plus they don’t play as one. They have a lot of good individual players but find it hard to gel as a team.

    The defending wasn’t so good. Our keeper saved us. We have good forwards in Musa and Osaze but mental strength was our Achilles heel.

    • joke

      July 4, 2014 at 9:57 am

      Pls read well before commenting, the writer said “For the first time, TWO teams from the great continent advanced to the knockout stage”.
      Anyway, I believe the Nigerian team was not technically sound enough to overcome the French. Russia 2018 will only yield a better performance if we start preparing now and learn from our mistakes.

  10. Bliss

    July 4, 2014 at 11:58 pm

    She should have said two african teams “cuncurently” moved to the next round. This would have totally avoided the ambiguity. Funny enough Bella naija hasn’t made an effort to correct this.

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