The Demise of Creativity in African Football

June 8, 2013 1:44 pm1 comment by:

The 1998 World Cup held in France, Nigeria advanced from the Group Stage, which included Spain, Paraguay and Bulgaria. It was not the first time that Nigeria or a country representing Africa advanced from the Group Stage. They also advanced to the second round in 1994 FIFA World Cup USA in a group comprising Argentina, Bulgaria and Greece.

But it was achieved by playing a brand of football that entertained neutral football fans watching on TV or lucky enough to have stadium tickets. On both occasions, the other African countries Cameroon, Morocco, Tunisia, South Africa did not advance to the second round.

And although Nigeria lost in the second round on both occasions, critics were impressed with the offensive players from the African countries such as Roger Milla, Mustapha El Hadji,Tigani Babangida and Jay Jay Okocha. This made the FIFA President to predict that it is only matter of time for an African country to win the World Cup. At the time, many thought it was a bold prediction but did not count it as impossible event.

Since then, World Cups have been held on 2002, 2006 and 2010, with Senegal and Ghana from the African Continent becoming competitive but still falling short of advancing past the quarter final stage. In most cases, the critics have analysed the matches and blamed the players for not sticking to a tactical structure for defeats but also acknowledging the creativity of the players for enjoying the match.

In my view, this has contributed in the African countries employing foreign coaches after qualifying for a World Cup to solve this problem. I am not present at the meetings where they employed coaches are briefed on what are the expectations. But, it is clear that discipline becomes a key characteristic in calling up a player to the demise of creativity.

The foreign coaches employed bring a rigid approach to managing the team that at first is alien to the players but now familiar as majority in squad play in Europe or Asia. In their defence, it has brought success with Ghana unlucky not to advance to the Semi Final in the 2010 World Cup. Previous to this feat, it has been a journey too far with the best achievement a low score defeat.

In contrast, we have witnessed other supposed lower teams such Uruguay, Croatia from other continent advancing to the World Cup Semi-final and a chance of a final spot

The downside to this relative success in the world stage is the lack of excitement in the matches. For instance, the recent 2011 and 2012 CAF the excitement came from the goal celebrations and high scissor kicks. You might argue that it is a price to pay if we wish to see an African country lift the World Cup.

In my view, it is a price that we do not need to even consider as we have the talent to keep creativity at the forefront. This rigid approach to achieving success is undermining the advantage that we have over the other world cup qualifiers.

Entertainment is why we love watching and playing in the stadiums, on the road or any space that is big enough to play. In the past, it has given rise to a host of players down the years who entertain us.

Do you remember, players like Abedi Pele, George Weah, and Jay Jay Okocha. You might be reading this and of the view that we are still producing creative players.I will give you stats that might change this view, since 2004 Didier Drogba has made the top 3 of the African Football of Year and only missing out in 2008 and 2011. In both years, the top 3 comprised of Emmanuel Adebayor (Togo),Mohamed Aboutrika (Egypt)and Michael Essien (Ghana) and in 2011 Yaya Toure (Cote d’Ivoire),Seydou Keita (Mali) and Andre Ayew (Ghana)

Now, these are good players playing for top teams in their respective leagues but you cannot tell me they are creative players that will make you stand up on your seat.

I am aware that pushing creativity has not produced success and the way forward is counter attack. This is clear to see with countries like Germany, Italy and Spain playing possession football and taking minimum risk to win competitions.

It has resulted in success in the world stage but can we not find a solution that draws from our natural instinct to be offensive and still keep our shape at the defence.

This has been achieved in the Under-17 or Under 21 World Competitions, what stops us from adapting similar system in the senior competition.#

 

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1 Comment

  • Austin aguocha

    I fully agree with this article .It is unfortunate that we have moved from the likes of okocha and kanu. …to the likes of yaya and drogba. Do not get me wrong…these are fantastic players in their own right, but as the article says…we are losing what made African football unique.

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