Africa learns lessons from 2010

Recently, Cairo hosted the FIFA/CAF 2010 World Cup Conference, which was held between 13-15 of October for the coaches and technical directors of the 53 African associations so they could share the key aspects of the 2010 FIFA World Cup South Africa™.

Issa Hayatou, CAF President and FIFA vice-president, was present at the opening ceremony and praised South Africa in his opening speech stressing how successful the organisation was. “It goes without saying that we owe this success to South Africa. The presence of Nelson Mandela at the Final was more than symbolic. This success is yours, you who are fighting every day to improve on the quality of our football,” he said.

Also present was Jean-Paul Brigger, Director of the FIFA Technical Study Group, who held a captivating session about the keys to success atSouth Africa 2010. One of his main observations was the improvement in the football standards of all teams at the FIFA World Cup. “We no longer have any small or weak teams,” said Brigger. “You all have very tough jobs as you now have to fiercely compete and play your best in every single game and against every opponent.”

We knew we were not the best team at the tournament, so we had to find ourselves an edge.
Pitso Mosimane, South Africa coach.

South Africa 2010 saw six African teams participating in the FIFA World Cup for the first time ever, and representatives from the nations – Algeria, Cameroon, Côte D’Ivoire, Ghana, Nigeria and South Africa  – gathered in an open panel discussion to share with the rest of their African compatriots the most important lessons they learned.

Faith repaid for Black Stars
The event’s standout African side, Ghana, were represented by technical director Francis Oti-Akenteng and current national team coach James Appiah, who stressed the importance of discipline and incorporating youth into the national team. “As with many African teams our squad was based around one star, “he said. “But when [Michael] Essien was injured, we had to think of alternatives. We had a team who had just won the U-20 FIFA World Cup, so we had to make use of that. Young players though need confidence and a lot of encouragement to compensate for the lack of experience, so we had to work hard on that.  Discipline was also very important, and we made it clear that there was no such thing as an automatic place in the line-up and there were no big players.”

And although the hosts had the advantage of playing at home, South Africa’s current national coach and assistant to Carlos Alberto Parreria this summer, Pitso Mosimane, explained that this was not enough. “We knew we were not the best team at the tournament, so we had to find ourselves an edge. We made sure we had the fittest team in the World Cup, and our strengths were our unity, fitness, organisation, and of course, the local support we had from the fans.”

Abdel Moneim Hussein, CAF’s Football Development Director, expressed his firm belief in the importance and benefits of holding such a conference and wished it was held more often. “It is a great idea to bring technical directors and coaches together because these two people conflict with each other on a regular basis, and it is in the best interest of the game for them to come together and realise that they are not a threat to one another,” he explained to FIFA.com. “On the contrary, they are there in fact to complement each other, and this conference will help in achieving this.”