HEAD COACHES and technical directors of African national teams have hailed progress in African football but emphasised the need to make improvements which would see an African team win a Fifa World Cup.
The resolution was among the many passed by the coaches, who meet in a two-day conference held in Cairo, Egypt last week. It was organised by FIFA and CAF to review and learn from the 2014 FIFA World Cup Brazil.
Rwanda was represented by Amavubi head coach Stephen Constantine and technical director Lee Johnson.
Reflecting on the technical aspects of Brazil 2014, there was a general feeling among participants that African teams had played their part in the overall success of the World Cup.
For the first time, two African teams reached the second stage of the competition and the general level of football produced was of high quality.
Particularly satisfying were the performances of Algeria, who lost narrowly in the Round of 16, and in extra time, to eventual champions, Germany.
Nigeria fell at the same stage to France, while Côte d’Ivoire and Ghana both came very close to reaching the second phase.
Analysing the example of world champion Germany, the top African technicians agreed that, despite having talented players, their nations still have a number of issues to address, particularly in organisation and administration.
“If we want to move forward we have to professionalise everything around the team,” said Volker Finke, who coached for nearly 20 years in the German Bundesliga and is now national coach of Cameroon.
After a disappointing 2014 World Cup, Cameroon is seeking a fresh start with a new generation of young players and is currently leading its group in the 2015 AFCON qualifiers.
Both Finke and Francis Oti Akenteng, technical director of Ghana stressed that disputes around the payment of bonuses to players ahead of the competition had a negative impact in Brazil.
“The money issue affected players’ concentration,” commented Akenteng.
Among the other issues that African football is facing, participants mentioned the lack of youth development programmes.
“The national team is not the place where you can teach the basics of technique and tactics; it has to come before,” said Ephraim Mashaba, head coach of South Africa.
He pointed as well to the difficulty of working appropriately within the international match calendar, which only allows a few days ahead of and in between matches.
This limitation is felt particularly in Africa, where travelling between different countries can take several days.
Shawky Gharib, head coach of Egypt, also underlined the difficulty of having to play international matches during the national league season break, when players are out of shape.
The two day event was a unique platform for the elite technicians of the African continent to exchange ideas and develop new strategies for the future.