With football being one of the only sports that unites people from all races and background behind the team they support, it is no doubt that the 3 African representatives at the women’s world cup have the support of the whole continent. Unfortunately for these African teams, the path leading to victory has not been very friendly, as they are facing a lot of difficulties.
The African Representatives
The Cameroonian female national team is participating in the FIFA Women’s World Cup for the second time, (first in 2015). The indomitable lionesses of Cameroon got their final pass to the world cup after they finished 3rd place in the just ended African Cup of Nations. The team drew a tough group for the tournament, (Group E) so they have to face Canada, New Zealand and Netherlands; the defending European champions.
The Nigerian team is an eleven-time African champion and is among the best female football team on the continent. The super Falcons are the most consistent African team in the FIFA Women’s World Cup since it started in 1991. They even succeeded to reach the quarter-finals in 1999.
This year, the Nigerian team got their pass for the world cup by winning the African Cup of Nations championship against South Africa. Nigeria finds herself in Group A with France, (host team) Norway and South Korea.
The South African national team fondly called Banyana Banyana (which translates as “the girls”) are representing South Africa at the FIFA Women’s World Cup for the 1st time. They qualified for the tournament by reaching the finals of the recent Africa Cup of Nations.
The South African team finds herself in group B, with some of the toughest teams in the tournaments; Germany (two-time world champion, 2003 and 2007), China and Spain. The girls count on the expertise and experience of their head coach Desiree Ellis to take far into the competition.
Challenges faced by African representatives at the Women’s World Cup
Despite the enthusiasm with which African football teams (both male and female) go for international competition, they are usually unable to make it pass the first and second rounds. This is the case with the African representatives at the on-going 2019 FIFA Women’s World Cup in France.
So far, only one African team has registered a victory. During their first game, Cameroon lost to Canada by 1 goal to nil. South Africa lost first two matches to Spain by 3 goals to 1 and to China by 1 to nil respectively. Nigeria lost her first match to Norway by 3 goals to nil, but was able to secure a victory to their second match with South Korea by 1 goal to nil. As a results of such poor performances, African teams are usually first to go home during such tournament.
Reasons for such poor performances
It is commonly said that he who fails to prepare, prepares to fail. Is this the case with most African football teams in the international arena?
At first sight, one will be convinced that improper preparation is one if the main reasons why African teams do not perform well out of the continent. This is because even the best teams find it difficult to perform well when faced with the teams from Europe and America. Like true Africans, these teams do not train when they still have enough time to, but wait to train at the dying minute under much pressure. These sessions are usually not very fruitful.
Lack of motivation and support is another cause for the poor performances of African teams. It is true that African teams get enough support from their fan clubs but this is not enough. The administrative authorities also need to support and motivate teams in every way they can, starting with paying their dues or salaries in its entirety and on time.
Poor team management also contributes to poor performances. Most team managers usually manage their teams based on selfish and personal interest, or to satisfy the interest of a selected few. Some players are selected not on account of their competences and experiences but the connections they have.
Lack of cooperation among players is another problem African teams are facing. Most often when African teams are on the field, a few players mess up golden opportunities just because they do not want to share the “shine” with other players. They often forget that playing as a team is more effective than playing individually.
The racism factor also contributes to poor performances. No matter how subtle it may be, any form of racism is very destabilizing; especially when directed towards women; who are more susceptible emotionally.
If African teams succeed to find solutions to these problems, they will be able to improve their performances in the international arena, and who knows, they may as well regain their past glories.
Article from AFRIC Editorial
Credit image : google image/illustration