Patrick Vieira believes African stars such as Didier Drogba and Samuel Eto'o were under too much pressure and lacked the support they needed to help their sides reach the knockout stages of the 2010 FIFA World Cup™.
The France midfielder, who was born in Senegal and is heavily involved in developing the game in Africa through his Diambars Academy project, insisted Cote d'Ivoire and Cameroon were too reliant on their figurehead players as both made first-round exits, in the case of the Indomitable Lions without winning a point.
Vieira said: "It is quite difficult to understand, some of the big names (of African football) play in Europe and when they come back to their national teams they struggle a lot. Players like Drogba and Eto'o, when they play for their clubs there are other stars who share the pressure but when they come into the national team the people expect them to win games by themselves.
It is quite difficult to understand, some of the big names (of African football) play in Europe and when they come back to their national teams they struggle a lot.
"They will make a difference but they cannot win a game by themselves. It is important for other players not to expect one player to make the difference - some players lay back and expect the big players to make a difference on their own. Other players must take responsibility as well."
Vieira believes African teams will continue to benefit from new rules which allow players of African ethnicity to represent the countries of their parents or grandparents even if they have played at national youth level in the country where they were born or grew up.
He said: "I never had a choice to make, I was in the French youth team and never had contact with the Senegal national team, but I don't have any regrets. But now there is a new rule so that if you got in the youth team (for one country) you can go and play in the senior team (of another). You can see the Algeria team, some of them played in the French youth team but played for the Algerian (senior) team. This is a good change for African countries, that will make them stronger."