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Africa will wait for next time

June 22nd, 2006 by · No Comments · Armchair Fan, Football

The view reflected the fact that, despite Fifa rankings, the winners were probably the best team in the tournament bar Brazil. On recent showing you could argue that Argentina should be considered the favourites.

Ivory Coast, and the other African teams, have been accused in the press here of starting slowly due to an inferiority complex and that once they have found they were not out of their depth they have begun to play to their potential. Ivory Coast comebacks against Holland and Argentina, and the improved second game performances of Angola and Ghana, are sited as examples.

Although the Ivory Coast, arguably the best African representatives but in the toughest group, Togo and Angola will take the early trip home the two remaining teams are still in with a chance of making the second round. It’s a slim chance admittedly but if Ghana can win their final group game against a battered USA they will probably go through.

Ghana would qualify as runners up and face Argentina in the next round. That should be good night but you never know. One thing that has impressed the locals is the ferocious physicality of the ‘proper’ African teams [they don’t really count Tunisia]. The sight of Angola roughing up Argentina would certainly entertain not least by betting on how many players would be left on the field at the whistle.

Togo needed to beat Switzerland or France, or both, to get thorough but Tunisia, even though they lost to Spain, will fancy their chances against an unexpectedly poor Ukraine. Three points from their last game might be enough. Their second round opponents would most likely be South Korea with Italy waiting in the quarter finals.

There has also been huge criticism of preparation and the way that teams have been in conflict with their governing bodies and even governments. Togo coach Otto Pfister quit over pay rows and his players were on strike even on the eve of their first game. The Togo president flew in to try and settle things.

Another local opinion that holds some water is that the Africans are creating a multitude of goal-scoring chances but are profligate in front of goal. There is a tendency to shoot from anywhere and a certain selfish trait in their play. If they could harness the physicality and undoubted skill and add a little calmness they will be a force to be reckoned with.

It’s a shame that they lack the experience to put that into practice this time around. Let’s hope they will be better prepared in 2010.


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