Led by the youngest and only black coach at the tournament, Senegal became the first African nation to secure victory at the 2018 World Cup – a feat which should be celebrated, re-told and revered, writes MARSHALL GOUTS.
At the conclusion of matchday 1 Africa’s record at the 2018 World Cup makes for somewhat dismal reading – six games played, five lost, two goals scored goal and ten goals conceded.
This coupled with Egypt’s premature exit from the spectacle doesn’t bode well for African football at all.
What’s worse is the manner in which these games were lost.
In four of the above mentioned games, goals were conceded from set-pieces in the final moments of regulation and/or stoppage time, which if anything indicates lack of concentration for the full required 90 minutes plus.
Unbelievable but bitter football truth all our North African brothers lost the matches in last minutes of the games Egypt vs Uruguay(last minute corner)Morocco vs Iran(last minute side kick)Tunisia vs England (last minute corner kick)If it is once u say accident if 3times problem
— MICHOcoach (@michocoach) June 18, 2018
Don’t get me wrong though, that’s not the only factor has aided to our shaky start on the grandest stage in world football. Poor decision-making from coaches is also up high on the list of ‘Lessons to be learnt’ for an all-important matchday 2.
Play Makers at the World Cup.
Argentina – Messi
Germany – Ozil
Croatia – Modric
Russia – Kolorvin
Senegal – Mane
France – Pogba
Nigeria – John Mikel Obiiiiiii.
Why always Africa??? pic.twitter.com/3fPS72WkT6
— Sky Boss (@IsaacKalema) June 16, 2018
Despite being largely anonymous against Russia, the Liverpool star netted a consolation penalty – scoring his side’s first goal at a World Cup in over two decades.
— Egyptian Players – Ahmad Yousef (@EgyptianPlayers) June 19, 2018
This brings me to my next sentiment. Are we throwing our tactics out the window in the hope of securing a draw? Or is the more pertinent question, what exactly are our tactics?
To me it seems, African teams are looking to contain the threat of their opposition, instead of focusing on putting the ball in the back of the net.
I can say without a shred of doubt in my mind that the gaps that exist between the African countries and their opponents aren’t that great.
Could’ve, should’ve, would’ve are always the words uttered after a loss.
Whether it be in hindsight or not, these lessons need to be learnt and quickly too, if African countries are to replicate the likes of Cameroon (1990), Senegal (2002), Ghana (2010) in advancing past the group stage of the World Cup.
Senegal, however proved that it’s not all doom and gloom for Africa, notching up an impressive 2-1 victory against Poland.
— Marshall P Gouts (@MarshallGouts) June 19, 2018
What made their victory even more special is the tear-jerking story behind the Lions of Teranga coach.
Not only is he the only black coach at the competition, but at age 42, he is also the youngest coach at the competition.
Cisse donned the captain’s armband for Senegal when they infamously defeated defending World Cup champions France at the 2002 World Cup and now, almost sixteen years later to the day, Cisse achieved the feat of becoming the first of the participating African countries to secure a victory at the 2018 World Cup.
Nigeria got beaten up
Senegal brought the Wakanda spirit to the World Cup #POLSEN
— Mr. Gitz (@iGitz_) June 19, 2018
Africa have their first win at the #WorldCup, collected by the only black coach at a tournament. Aliou Cisse is also the youngest coach at #Russia2018. This story needs to be told over and over again!
— David Kappel (@kappilinho) June 19, 2018
Prior to World Cup, Cisse joined the legendary Pele, who at the turn of the century infamously predicted that an African would win lift the World Cup.
‘I am certain that one day an African country will win the World Cup,’ Cisse told media.
‘It was some 25 years ago that African countries regularly came just to be a part of the World Cup.
‘I think that things have developed but it’s more complicated in our continent – we have realities that are not evident in other continents.
‘We trust our football, we have no complex, we have great players, now we need African coaches for our football to go ahead,’ he concluded.
Despite Africa’s dismal start to the World Cup, Cisse and his Senegalese outfit have proved that self-belief is everything on the biggest stage of world football.
Photo: Getty Images