Africa: After The Fall

Africa’s World Cup Performance: To Mourn or Celebrate?

Let’s call it what it was: Africa’s performance in Brazil was a debacle.

It took me some time to get over my emotions and stop looking for evidence where none is needed: Five teams, two in the second round, a total of 32 goals conceded, including nine for Cameroon . This is not to point fingers or rub salt in the wounds but rather to better understand what other teams are doing that Africa clearly is not.

Compare African teams to those Western teams that have had success in this World Cup.

Cameroon, Ivory Coast and Algeria at the World Cup.


Penalty Success

In terms of successful shots and success in the box the Western teams out-maneuvered us. Take Holland as an example. Statistically it is the most successful team in terms of conversion of shots made in the box into goals. Despite its success, the Dutch had a lower success rate than Algeria, which counted an average of nine shots per match.

Shot Number
Scored 7
Missed 9
Shot Number
Scored 3
Missed 15
Shot Number
Scored 12
Missed 27

Goals Conceded Goals Against

Here, the statistics speak for themselves. But I just want to add the fact that there is a lack of finishing. One thing that the percentage of success has shown is that Africa has the know-how, but lacks discipline and creativity especially in attack, which prevents it from capitalizing on opportunities.

Allowed Scored
4 Netherlands 12
Allowed Metric Scored
7 Algeria 7
5 Côte d’Ivoire 4
6 Ghana 4
5 Nigeria 3
9 Cameroon 1

Ball Possession

Overall, the ball is part of a set of criteria to understand the health and tenacity of a team. Consider passing, assists, shots on target and total possession during the game. The team with the highest percentage of possession per game is Argentina with 65 percent on average. By comparison, only Cote d’Ivoire manages to rise above 50 percent.

Country Possession
Argentina 65.6
Country Possession
Côte d’Ivoire 56
Nigeria 49
Ghana 47
Cameroon 42
Algeria 40

We have the numbers. So what must we remember? Two things. First, African teams have more talent than the Western teams. You can see that in the numbers. Second, African teams have a chronic, and I mean chronic, shortage of creativity in the execution of their game plans.

Simply stated, there is a lack of finish. Teams manage to create opportunities, but not to score. They parry attacks, but the rebound does not follow. When we look more closely at the ratio between the number of assists and the missed shots on the one hand, the goals of each other, we realize that this is a correlation that does not exist in Africa . African players do not pass in the penalty area. However, the other teams are doing this. France, for example, scored 68 percent of their goals with a decisive pass in the penalty area.

The numbers tell us, we must listen.

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