Les Fennecs of Algeria provided the shining highlight for Africa at the 2014 FIFA World Cup

July 9, 2014 12:10 pm0 comments by:

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The dust is gradually settling down on 5 African football nations, who represented the continent at  this year’s 2014 World Cup in Brazil. It is unfortunate after the campaign that all 5 national teams have to appoint new coaches. The expectations going towards the competition was higher than previous ones. The preparations went smoothly and players and coaches came out to back our optimisms. Super Eagles of Nigeria, Black Stars of Ghana and Les Elephants of  Ivory Coast seem to carry over from qualifying stages their good form.  Les Fennecs of Algeria and Indomitable Lions of Cameroon struggled and luckily made it through to the playoffs and friendlies.

The players at interviews indicated being very emotional proud to represent their country. High emotions involvement hinders a player’s ability to be discipline for a full football match. Fans were happy at that time that the players had this feeling. However, Algeria national team are the only team to show the right balance between emotions and tactical discipline throughout the competition. Les Fennecs of Algeria provided the shining highlight for Africa at  the 2014 FIFA world cup.
Fans should have known that old bad habits take time to die and players at these interviews just said the right things .The outlook presented covered a multitude of old problems beneath the surface.
One of the oldest bad habit was dispute over agreed match appearance fees. I wrote a recent article to propose that overseas based players should not be given appearance fees. Appearance fees  should go only to the local based players. Overseas based should only be entitled to basic expenses.

The issue with unpaid appearance fees surfaced prior to the first game for Indomitable Lions of Cameroon. This dispute issue surfaced in between the group matches for Nigeria and Ghana national teams. The frustrating aspect was that we were to believe prior to the tournament, it had already been resolved under the current management structure .We thought that coaches, football associations, players and management had learnt their lesson from the previous 2010 World Cup. I hope the idea that FIFA would request a copy of the agreement prior to future competition would help prevent future disputes. They would pay directly to the players as agreed on the contract and pass the balance to the various African football associations at the end.

Fans made a lot of sacrifices to support the teams  at Brazil. The reward was halfhearted performances on the pitch. The players were more worried about receiving their appearance fees and improving their professional C.V. The African fans were lucky Algeria proved to the other 4 football nations, the way to reward their fans. The started the competition with a spirited display and followed it with a better passionate, aggressive and tactical sound display against Germany. They deserve all the applause and should have advanced to quarter final.
It is worth noting that they scrapped through via the playoffs and were regarded as pre-tournament losers
Nigeria, and Ivory Coast were regarded as better chances to qualify from the group phases. Instead, it was Algeria that proved to everyone that Africa football nations have the potential to dominate and play better than big European counterparts.

Super Eagles of Nigeria started with a disappointing below par performance against Iran, then lucky to win against Belarus. They showed a better performance against Argentina with glimpses of the hidden talent. Then, the Nigerian goal keeper decided to have a poor game against France in Round 16 match. He was emotional carried away by the accolades bestowed on him after previous matches. He lost his discipline and went for ball outside his reach to allow France midfielder Progba to score the first goal.

Ivory Coast started well with a win against Japan but it went downhill afterwards. They did show a bit of character in the last game but went asleep in the last minute. Few will argue that the players were unlucky to concede last minute penalty. My response will be that they had opportunities to score more.They did not get the balance between their emotional involvement and tactical discipline.

Ghana did Africa proud at the 2010 World Cup by reaching the quarter-finals. They almost made it to the semifinal. This, would have been a first for African national team. This year 2014, it would have been tough ask to repeat the feat.
Ghana were drawn in the toughest 2014 world cup group. It included Germany, USA and Portugal. They had chance to win against USA and thus require a draw against Germany or Portugal. However, it was their game against Germany that proved their downfall. They were leading 2-1 after being a goal down. The team emotions running high as on the verge of a famous win, they let in a second goal. This meant had to win against Portugal. They could not win and thus bow out.

Cameroon’s poor performance at this world cup was similar to previous campaigns and recently with the qualifying campaign. They started it badly and were in danger of missing qualification for 2014 World Cup. It took FIFA deduction of points from Togo for fielding ineligible player to help Cameroon. They won their last group game and playoff game to book their place Rio 2014. The difference this time is that internal  disagreements between players displayed on the pitch. The result was resounding 3 group losses.

Algeria came into the world cup not in a good form but left the world cup with everyone’s respect. Les Fennecs  of Algeria started the group phases with the right balance of emotional effort and tactical discipline. The key point is that they kept it for the full 90 minutes. This was the ingredient missing especially in Cameroon. Nigeria and Ivory Coast seem to lose this balance in between matches. Ghana had a lot of emotional and thus lost their tactical shape in vital moments.

Players with a high emotion is a commendable asset, but too much emotion hinders players from sticking to strategy and keeping focus. Yesterday, Germany thrash Brazil 7-1 but narrowly beat Algeria in added extra time. You cannot tell me that the individual players in Algeria are better than Brazil. It was a case that Algeria got the balance perfect and provide the shining highlight for African Continent. Hopefully, the other African representatives follow suit.

Obioma Aguocha
Self Publisher:The Guide to being the Best(Paperback) 2007 &Sporting Success Simplified (E-book) 2012

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