THE LEGENDARY DISMAL PERFORMANCE OF AFRICAN TEAMS AT FOOTBALL WORLD CUP COMPETITIONS.
By Namakando Nalikando-Sinyama
Now that the football World Cup is underway in Brazil, it is in order that we all declare our interest as to which team(s) we are rooting for. It is an open secret that I am and always have been an ardent supporter of the disciplined Germans as inspired by Hitlerism. It is not just because of last night but I seem to now have a much softer spot for The Dutch team as well!
At this world cup, you will not catch me dead supporting the quadrennial under-performing African teams as they cause us way too much embarrassment as a continent. The individual players only exhibit their true talents when applying their trade in professional leagues abroad. The African individual players seem too muscular for some reason maybe they think this stamina helps them endure the physical exertion. Sadly, it also causes their brain to harden or something this judging from their decision making on the pitch and final execution of moves. Well, news flash, football is not only about physical staying power but more to do with mental and intellectual acumen as well.
The Africans should pick a leaf from the way Robin Van Persie launched himself at the ball, while seemingly levitating, defying all known forces of gravity but still managed to think and control the ball and knock it where he wanted it to go. That is, quickly calculating the position of the goal minder and lobbing it over the keeper, paying attention to the trajectory of the ball, his own aerial lift and determining correct point of actual contact with the ball then lo and behold scoring! That was, to me, truly the classic definition of ‘The Flying Dutchman!’ My note to our African players is this that, ordinarily you are not expected to miss when you head the ball for the very simple reason that you are using a body appendage on your own torso, and not on anybody else’s .This body part, the head that is, contains both the aids of sight, eyes, and thought processes (Brain) so use it god damn it! What I have noticed is that when approaching or facing the goal in an offensive effort many an Africa player opt to rely on their obviously superior physique and unleash an undirected shot at goal hoping it will find its way in by sheer virtue of the strength employed even with their head bowed down while they do this. The usual result of this is what we are all too familiar with. It hits into players or just gets ballooned into outer space much to the annoyance of the over-zealous expectant fans. This is not to justify the practice but now you have a fair enough idea where the occasional toss of Musa paradisiaca spp.(Banana) to African players on the pitch comes from. What they little realize is that, with an occasional lifting of the head as they run with ball and checking the position of the keeper and possible obstacles in their way, it may not take that much strength to put in the shot .
The seemingly never ageing Arjen Robben from Bayern Munich was particularly impressive also but you may not probably notice this from the many online reviews especially hereon because the majority of the commentary on last night’s game is predominantly coming from the Manchester United support base for obvious reasons.
Modern football is more about finesse, technique and team-work. So, when these aspects are well-coordinated this is what delivers on the pitch. There are a myriad of scapegoats that do the rounds after many a shoddy showing at global sporting arenas by African teams. What they need to be told is that we are just about fade up with their never ending shocking levels of sporting ineptitude. What is our latest excuse for not performing as well as other non-African nations? The player’s allowances not being paid or they are not enough? Look, if you are a little thin on resources as a football association go ahead and borrow from Qatar or something but be sure to pay them back while you are at it! The lack of facilities is now a cliché which has become stale and does not really hold anymore. The African players are too scattered abroad so when they are hastily assembled during major competitions there is little or no time for the players to bond or gel properly and be well coordinated. The pre-colonial slave trade generally still has many psychological scars resulting in inferiority complexes etched on the African personality thereby doing untold harm to their ego. When they meet other Nations they have a low self-esteem and this has had a negative impact on their game.
However, and unfortunately, probably unlike you, I am not abusing a substance to delude me into thinking of impossible outcomes. Because of my infantile dread for claustrophobia and asphyxiation I will not be turning blue from holding my breath too long that an African team is going to win this particular World Cup either! I beseech you not to get me wrong. They have actually been known to win a few matches here and there but when it gets to where and when it really matters they falter. It will crash your heart to learn that more often than not, they have proven to be rather consistent with their failure to achieve.
Before you decide to lynch me, I know this will not go down well with many soccer fans on the continent but, just know that I derive credence for my rather harsh assertion from their proven track record of not improving on their previous showings at these tournaments. Africans should be advised to gracefully withdraw from this competition and re-group. Probably just play among themselves or field one team for the continent so that the shame and heartache they inflict on us is reduced somewhat. The strength in numbers concept clearly has not helped Africans much as the pain ever increases. This is not healthy at all because we can only take so much embarrassment as a people. There is so much pride that rides on these chaps and people with hyper tension are strongly advised not to be overly passionate and expectant even this time around as the picture is bound to be the same. What did Einstein define as doing the same thing but expecting a different result?
So, there you have it, I have officially dared them to shame me and win the 2014 Brazil World Cup so that I eat my words!
Caution: Just remember though, that, I do not have a voracious appetite for my own words and they usually do not return void.