Since April 2005, the legendary former Cameroon striker Roger Milla has been devoting his time to Coeur d’Afrique Solidarité (Heart of Africa Solidarity), his association "which will soon open an orphanage with 100 places in Yaounde and will eventually have four training pitches to produce strikers." The iconic figure of Italy 1990 remains a much sought-after voice on the subject of football. In Johannesburg on behalf of his humanitarian organisation, he agreed to share his thoughts on South Africa 2010 with FIFA.com.
FIFA.com: Roger, what did you make of Cameroon’s FIFA World Cup™ campaign?
Roger Milla: There’s no point kidding ourselves, it was bad. It was even very bad. We messed up with our preparations, our organisation and above all our discipline. How are you supposed to achieve something at a World Cup when there are clans, and the players don’t want to talk with each other?
What are your thoughts on what has been a disappointing tournament for African teams?
We hoped to have three or four teams in the last 16 and we only have one, so it’s been a failure. But that doesn’t reflect the quality of our players or our football. We had the means to compete, but as we saw with the Indomitable Lions, without discipline it’s impossible to be competitive at the very highest level. The preparations weren’t good. I’m not against European coaches if they’re able to keep a distance from internal problems and really give us something we lack.
Will African sides take away any lessons from this tournament?
This World Cup will force some people to face reality because, for me, the best African teams were here in South Africa. Not everything has been negative, though. Bafana Bafana did some good things and Ghana are through to the next round.
Africa is proving to the whole world that it can organise a tournament like this and that makes me profoundly happy.
You have already praised the organisation of this FIFA World Cup. Have you been surprised by how good it has been?
Not at all, far from it. I said a long time ago that I was confident that this would be a fantastic World Cup. Africa is proving to the whole world that it can organise a tournament like this and that makes me profoundly happy.
What message would you like to send to the detractors?
We’ve heard lots of things over the last four years about Africa’s supposed inability to deliver a World Cup of the very highest quality. We apparently didn’t have the people, the stadiums or the infrastructure. South Africa are currently teaching people a lesson because, for me, this is the best World Cup since USA 1994, with the same atmosphere inside and outside the stadiums.
As a striker, which forwards have impressed you the most so far?
David Villa, Gonzalo Higuain and Lionel Messi, without doubt. Messi might not have scored but his impact on Argentina’s play is tremendous. Asamoah Gyan has also been impressive and I really like Robert Vittek of Slovakia.