Reflecting on the technical aspects of Brazil 2014, there was a general feeling among participants that African teams had played their part in the overall success of the World Cup. For the very first time two African representatives reached the second stage of the competition and the general level of football produced was of high quality. Particularly satisfying were the performances of Algeria, who lost narrowly, and in extra time, to eventual champion Germany in the Round of 16. Nigeria fell at the same stage thanks to two late France goals, while Côte d’Ivoire and Ghana both came very close to reaching the second phase.
Both Finke and the representative from Ghana stressed that disputes around the payment of bonuses to players ahead of the competition had a negative impact in Brazil. “The money issue affected players' concentration," commented Francis Oti Akenteng, technical director of Ghana.
We have been successful because we have professionalised the structure around the team.
Taoufik Korichi, Algeria's technical director
Among the other issues that African football is facing, participants mentioned the lack of youth development programmes. “The national team is not the place where you can teach the basics of technique and tactics; it has to come before," said Ephraim Mashaba, head coach of South Africa. He pointed as well to the difficulty of working appropriately within the international match calendar, which only allows a few days ahead of and in between matches . This limitation is felt particularly keenly in Africa, where travelling between different countries can take several days.
Shawky Gharib, head coach of Egypt, also underlined the difficulty of having to play international matches during the national league season break, when players are out of shape.
Algeria was praised by many participants to the conference for the level of football they displayed in Brazil. “We have been successful because we have professionalised the structure around the team," said Taoufik Korichi, Algeria's technical director. “We look at every detail. The administration, the organisation and the technical aspects go hand in hand.”
Senegal's technical director, Mayacine Mar, was similarly upbeat. “We have progressed; we are not far from our objective," he said. "But we need more stability of coaches and technical staff to allow them to develop a project over at least four years."
The conference was also a very good opportunity to learn from the World Cup and analyse the tactical evolution of the game. “Football has changed”, said Finke. “In modern football everybody moves, every player has to give to the team and be responsible. The system can change, but what needs to always be there is pressing on the ball and playing collectively, move together”.
The two day event was a unique platform for the elite technicians of the African continent to exchange ideas and develop new strategies for the future. “We should stop thinking about winning today but think of winning tomorrow. We need to build very good foundations," was the view of Ghana's technical director, Francis Oti Akenteng.
Attention now turns to Kuala Lumpur, where the final post-World Cup conference for continental associations will take place between 29 and 31 October for member associations of Asia’s AFC and Oceania’s OFC.