Africa's embarrassing 2014 WC reps

JOHANNESBURG - One week into the 2014 World Cup and one thing which has become so obvious is that soccer on the African continent has alarmingly gone backwards instead of moving forward.

Countries like Ghana, Cameroon and Nigeria carried so much hope for the continent but after a week of huge disappointment, even the most die-hard fanatics have started to sit back and take stock.

The so-called Indomitable Lions’ 4-0 humiliation at the hands of Croatia summed up the sorry state of African football and those who have been clamouring for the continent to have additional slots at the World Cup, have been given food for thought.

One thing which has come out of this fiesta is that African players lack discipline, put money matters ahead of their country and that soccer in general on the continent has remained rooted in ancient tactics when the rest of the world has moved on.

Following disappointment in the 2010 World Cup held here in Mzansi where only the Black Stars of Ghana managed to go beyond the knock out stages, a lot was expected from the African continent’s five representatives.

But defeats for Algeria, Cameroon, Ghana and tepid draw for Nigeria against minnows Iran, coupled with Cote d’Ivoire’s defeat to Colombia have brought some sobering thoughts about the lack of seriousness in which Africa takes this sport.

There has been talk of infighting within African teams’ camps and Wednesday’s embarrassing open fighting among Cameroonian players underscored how the 2014 World Cup has exposed African teams’ lack of discipline.

Last week I touched on the issue of Cameroon players complaining about bonuses on the eve of them leaving for the World Cup and now one understands why they did so. They knew very well they were not going to the 2014 World Cup to compete but embarrass the continent and so by demanding hefty bonuses, they will have secured their most prized motive – money.

There has been talk that Africa should get extra slots at the World Cups but following another shambolic performance by the five representatives, no one in his sober senses would like to raise this matter again.

While Africa’s representatives have been busy embarrassing the continent, this World Cup is threatening to do away with the normal standing order.

With defending champions Spain and England already preparing to board the plane back home, more heavyweights are likely to follow suit in the coming days.

Smaller nations like Mexico, Chile and Costa Rica meanwhile, have shown little respect of the pecking order.

Mexico’s goalless draw against hosts Brazil to me what one of the highlights of this World Cup which has produced plenty of goals and upsets.

Chile who knocked out Spain in chilling fashion are an exciting and adventurous side capable of going all the way while Costa Rica who floored Uruguay are also dark horses full of running, gifted and can score some audacious goals.

Why our African teams cannot show the same hunger, beats me.

Having said that Italy, Germany, Brazil and Argentina have all realised that for them to avoid going the same way as Spain and England, they have to raise their game - and boy, they have really stepped up the plate.

So far, apart from Africa’s usual disappointment, it has been a World Cup to remember.

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