The 20th edition of the FIFA World Cup will end in Brazil , the spiritual home of football, on June 13, 2014 with no African team qualifying for the quarter-finals.
The two African teams that made it out of the group stage, Nigeria and Algeria were sent packing by France and Germany respectively in their round of 16 ties. While Nigeria was easily over run by France 2-0, Germany had to extra time to beat Algeria 2-1.
And the best performance by African teams at the Mundial was reaching the quarter-finals in 1990 ( Cameroon ), 2002 ( Senegal ) and 2010 ( Ghana ).
Nigeria , despite appearing five times (1994, 1998, 2002, 2010 and 2014) has not crossed the Round of 16. Thrice, it qualified for the quarter-finals (1994, 1998, 2014), and thrice it was booted out due to no other reason, but indiscipline.
In 1994, in its first appearance, Super Eagles topped its group that included Argentina , Bulgaria and Greece with six points having lost a match and winning two. After this unexpected performance, Super Eagles camp became a beehive of activities, with all sorts of visitors visiting, including women of easy virtues. The then coach of the team, Clemence Westerhof, in his bid to ensure that the players were focused on the task ahead- match against Italy- proposed that the team relocate to a serene hotel, a conducive environment. The players protested against this and with the backing of the government, the players won, but the opportunity cost was the 2-1 loss to Italy .
At the 1998 World Cup in France , Eagles also topped its group with six points after beating Spain 3-2, Bulgaria 1-0 and lost 1-3 to Paraguay . Rather than focus on the second round match against Denmark , on the eve of the match, the players rather than focus on the match were involved in negotiating for $15,000 winning bonus that must be paid upfront. They got their way, but again lost 1-4.
The story was also not different at the 2014 edition when the players after qualifying for the second round for two days refused to train haggling for the payment of their World Cup appearance fee. This took a lot of tool on the team and when the players filed out against France , after 70 minutes they all lost steam and France got the two goals it needed to edge out Eagles.
Against this backdrop, former Cameroon , Ghana , Congo Dr and Senegal coach, Claude LeRoy believes that the African champions must make discipline its bedrock if it hopes to make a serious impact at the global stage.
The French journey man, who is presently coaching Congo Brazzaville, told our correspondent in Brasilia , Brazil that without discipline, it will be difficult, if not impossible for Super Eagles to fulfill its potentials as a world champion.
According to him, "If an African team will win the World Cup, it is Nigeria ," he began.
"But your players must be disciplined. Without it, there can't be success.
"I watched your team; it is a team with great potentials. Good goalkeeper (referring to Vincent Enyeama's heroic performance in Brazil ) but players' discipline is very important to win the World Cup.
"I played against the team many times and know that they are a very strong team. They are a big team.
"African teams must be disciplined before you can talk of tactics. Discipline is the basis of success. It is very, very important to be disciplined," he said.
He believes that should Nigerian players imbibe the discipline needed to achieve success at the highest level of football, then the next problem that must be sorted out is poor organization that characterises African football.
"It is also important to have good organization to win the World Cup. It is a big problem in Africa . The big problem is that they don't allow people to work. You need time to build a team but it is a problem."
The coach, who handled Indomitable Lions of Cameroon at the 1988 Africa Cup of Nations in Morocco , is still miffed at the Henry Nwosu's disallowed goal in the final.
He could not fathom any reason why the referee disallowed the goal.
"After the match, journalists asked me about the goal and honestly I say it was not a wrong goal."