Africa’s Problems got reenacted in Russia

Africa’s Problems got reenacted at the World Cup in Russia 
It is no longer news that Africa’s problems at World Cup competitions continued in Russia 2018. No African team would feature in the knock out round of the ongoing competition. Senegal’s elimination from the competition yesterday, made it the first time since 1982 that a team from this continent would fail to make it beyond the first round of the World Cup.

Before this development, Babajide Ogunsanwo, a data analyst on Channels Television, reviewed the statistics of African teams at the World Cup and stated that there is an “African problem” that shows that “the more games African countries play, the more they lose”. According to him, “Nigeria has played 19 matches at the World Cup and won only 5. Therefore, the probability of winning anytime we play a World Cup game is 26 percent”.

Ogunsanwo also stated that although Cameroun holds Africa’s record of playing 23 matches which is the highest by any African country, they have won only 4 of those matches. He submitted that based on that record, Cameroon’s probability of winning a World Cup match anytime they play, is 17 percent.

In the same vein, Ogunsanwo stated that Morocco had played 16 games at the World Cup and won 2 while Ghana had played 12 matches and won 4. Similarly, Ivory Coast had played 9 matches and won 3. He identified Senegal as Africa’s best country at the World Cup because they had played 6 games and won 3.

Consequently, Ogunsanwo said: “There is a conspiracy that says the reason why Africa plays at the world cup is to make it easier for Europeans and South Americans to reach the finals. If you want to qualify, based on the statistics we have, play an African country.”

Babajide Ogunsanwo gave those statistics on Friday, June 23, while previewing Nigeria’s game against Iceland on Sunrise Daily, a program of Channels Television. The statistics for Nigeria got slightly altered after the Super Eagles beat Iceland on that date and proceeded to lose against Argentina four days later.

Nevertheless, his submission on Africa’s reason for participating at the World Cup seems to have been vindicated by the performance of this continent’s teams in Russia 2018 where Senegal joined Africa’s exit queue of Egypt, Morocco, Tunisia and Nigeria.

Egypt posted Africa’s worst result in Russia by losing all her matches. The Pharoahs lost 0-1 to Uruguay in their opening game before losing 1-3 to host country, Russia. They were already out of the competition before Saudi Arabia beat them 2-1 in their final game.

Morocco lost 0-1 to Iran and Portugal respectively, before holding Spain to a 2-2 draw.

Tunisia got eliminated after losing 1-2 against England and 2-5 against Belgium. Their 2-1 win over Panama was not enough to secure them a place in the knock out stage of the World Cup.

Nigeria lost their opening game 0-2 to Croatia before raising hopes with a 2-0 win against Iceland. They were eliminated last Tuesday, when they lost 1-2 to Argentina.


Nigeria’s German Coach, Gernot Rohr, consoles defender Brian Idowu, after the loss to Argentina
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Senegal beat Poland 2-0 before drawing 2-2 against Japan. Colombia saw them off with a 1-0 win, yesterday. Despite that loss, they would have qualified for the knock out stage, if they were not undone by the fair play rule. They were tied on 4 points and the same goals difference with Japan, but had more yellow cards than that Asian country.

Does Africa participate in World Cup competitions for the sake of Europe and South America? No. Africa is as endowed and as ambitious as other continents.

Didier Drodgba, who appeared at three World Cups with Ivory Coast, has said that “Africa is going to be successful one day but we need to think again how we approach these big competitions.” He told the BBC where he is working as a television pundit at the World Cup that African teams need better planning and structures, to help them in future competitions. He has asked them to emulate European sides.

Drodgba’s admonition should serve as food for thought for Africa’s teams. The teams need to pick out some positives from their outings in Russia and learn from their mistakes.

In the case of Nigeria for instance, there is no need for sweeping changes in the team that was ranked as the “youngest team” in Russia. A youthful team should have a bright future. Thankfully, the Super Eagles would soon regroup for qualifying matches of the 2019 Africa Cup of Nations competition.

The positive lessons of Russia 2018 should be visible in those qualifying matches and in all competitions, including the 2022 World Cup competition.

Cornelius Ellah
Twitter: @lin_cornellah
Facebook: Cornelius Ellah

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