Europe for long has had a disproportionate number of spots at the FIFA World Cup with the continent afforded 13 (+1 host) berths in the 32-team edition in Russia, with Africa and Asia crying foul again for the relatively modest representation quotas of five each.
The Europeans teams, however, have justified their position of pre-eminence with 10 teams making it to second round and six to the quarterfinals while the semifinals were an all-European affair. It was a World Cup of disappointment for Africa as all its teams failed to make it to the knockout stage for the first time since 1986.
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“The World Cup was a disappointment for African teams because the expectations were much higher. Football has developed a lot and it will continue to change,” Emmanuel Amunike, former Nigerian international and part of FIFA’s Technical Study Group (TSG), said.
Elaborating on the problems with the football setup in the region, which has for long acted as a feeder system to European clubs, Amunike added: “If we don’t embrace youth development and just continue to dream then we won’t be successful. Raw talent alone doesn’t give you good results. We have the responsibility to not just rely on talent but teach the young players how to anticipate and read the game.”
A look at where the players of France and Croatia squads ply their trade.
World Cup-winning Brazilian coach Carlos Alberto Pereira, who is also the head of TSG, echoed his counterparts views. “Through all these years, there have been a lot of changes – both on the pitch and off the pitch. One thing that did not change is the talent, the quality and the passion for the game. Talent is the biggest weapon a team can have,” he said.
“But if it was just about the talent, Brazil would have been world champions more than five times. At a World Cup you need to be ready at the right time and you need to show commitment, hunger and passion to win.”