Former Chelsea boss Avram Grant says African teams have all it takes to clinch “this summer’s Fifa World Cup in Brazil”, but stresses the need for a “strong mental strength” in order to stand a chance against the world’s best.
Nigeria, Ivory Coast, Ghana, Cameroon, and Algeria are the Confederation of African Football (CAF) flag-bearers in Brazil.
No African side has ever progressed beyond the quarter-finals of the World Cup, in spite of the world class talents and fledgling prospects at her disposal. This presents the various technical crews of the qualified nations with a huge responsibility to break the hoodoo and surmount their previous achievements- a feat which Grant visualises in the horizon.
“I certainly believe African teams will excel at this summer’s World Cup in Brazil,” the 59-year-old, who last coached at Serbian club Partizan Belgrade told Cafonline.com.
“I strongly believe that Ivory Coast, Ghana and Nigeria might even go further than the quarter final stage if their mental strength is excellent. It will be a good testimony for African football.”
The Black Stars of Ghana were the last of all five hopefuls due for the South American nation in June (when this year’s tournament commences) to have reached the last-8 of the biggest football showpiece in the world four year’s ago. Cameroon blazed the trail at Italia 90.
However, African sides have been knocked out of the World Cup in the most bizarre fashion- most notably; Ghana’s ouster at the expense of a mediocre Uruguay via penalty shoot-out in South Africa and the Indomitable Lions’ failure to outwit a Garry Lineker-inspired England after extra-time.
It is the most minute details of a football match that make a winning team in crucial circumstances, and the former Israel manager urges African coaches to concentrate on mental strength of the players and get results.
“I even don’t understand why Africa can’t win the World Cup because when compared to other countries, Africa has got excellent talents.
“The only problem I have seen with African teams is the fact that they lose games they can win in crucial moments. However, this can be improved because the problem is lack of a strong mental strength but it can be fixed,” Grant added.
“When Italy won the World Cup in 2006, they had no good talented players more than Africa with all due respect. At that time, Italy was not better than the leading countries in Africa but they have something that is lacking here in Africa and its more to do with the mental strength and this can be taught by employing the best people to teach it.”
He also singled out the warm weather in Brazil as a factor which tends to favour the teams from the ‘black continent’ in lieu of the highly-favoured Europeans.
Grant opined: “One advantage that the African teams have in Brazil is that it is going to be warm. European teams have never won the World Cup in South America, so it will be a great opportunity for the African teams to do well because of the circumstances they have to play in.”