African soccer waking up to its potential says Cafu
Johannesburg: An African nation could win the World Cup in the future if the game continues on the right path, Brazil’s World Cup-winning captain Cafu said on Thursday.
Despite five of Africa’s six representatives at the World Cup failing to get past the first round including hosts South Arica, Cafu said that the continent’s soccer was improving.
Cafu is the only man to have played in three World Cup finals, winning two of them. He captained Brazil to their 2002 triumph.
Ghana, who play Uruguay in the quarter-finals on Friday at Soccer City, were the only African survivors from the group stage but now have the chance of surpassing the quarter-final achievements of Cameroon in 1990 and Senegal in 2002 to become the first African team to reach the semi-finals.
Cafu, 40, Brazil’s most capped player, told a media briefing: “What we are seeing nowadays, is African teams who are more responsible, more committed, and more aware of what is needed of them and the responsibility behind representing their continent.
“African soccer has grown to the extent that the majority of its players are playing for European teams and that is very good as they are becoming role models for the youngsters on the continent.
“As far as winning a World Cup such as this, I believe that first of all you need to have the right teams, the right determination and of achieving your objectives.
“If African teams can realise the importance of team spirit they will know that they can win a World Cup.
“If we look at what Ghana has achieved so far, we can be certain that one African team will eventually win a World Cup.”
His views were backed by Danny Jordaan, the chief executive of the local organising committee, who said Africa must invest in youth programmes and development if it is to have any chance of winning the World Cup in the future.
“The prospects are just amazing for us. We have the possibility of an African team going beyond the frontiers never achieved by any African country, going beyond what was achieved in 1990 and again in 2002.
“Roger Milla had his last dance in the quarter-final (in 1990 with Cameroon). Ghana is already there and we hope that we can see them in the semi-final and final of the World Cup.”
But, he stressed, investment in youth programmes was vital for future success.
“Cafu won the Under 17 World Cup, then the Under 20 World Cup, then the Olympics, then the senior World Cup and that’s what we have to aim at from an African point of view.
“If you did not do well in primary or secondary school, you are not going to be a star performer at university. It is not going to happen.
“Development in football is the same. We have to, as a continent, focus on development and youth football and Ghana showed us, the next generation. That is where we must focus on the preparation for 2014 and the next World Cup.”