Former Super Eagles winger, and member of FIFA’s Technical Study Group, Emmanuel Amuneke, said on Thursday at a media parley at the Luzhniki Stadium in Moscow that African countries would continue to disappoint in football and be disappointed unless they embrace grassroots development.
“The World Cup was a disappointment for African teams because the expectations were much higher,” Amuneke said in the company of the other members of the TSG.
For the first time in 32 years, no African team made it into the second round with Nigeria, Senegal, Tunisia, Egypt, and Morocco, all crashing out after the first round.
“Football has developed a lot and it will continue to change. 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,” Amuneke added.
Carlos Alberto Parreira, who led Brazil to their 1994 triumph, corroborated Amuneke’s views when he said if winning was based on just talent alone then Brazil would have more than their five triumphs.
“Talent is the biggest weapon a team can have. But if it were 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,” Parreira added.
Andy Roxburgh, from Scotland, stressed the tactical flexibility that has been on show in Russia just as set pieces have led to more goals.
“In the previous Champions League season, 45 corner kicks led to one goal on average; here at the World Cup, it was 30 corner kicks to one goal. That shows efficiency, speed of action and thought.”
Amuneke represented Nigeria at the 1994 World Cup, at which the Eagles reached the second round and the left-footed player scored two goals.