Selfishness bane of African football, says Matthaeus
Lothar Matthaeus is one of the best-known faces in German football.
A serial champion, who led his country to the World Cup title in 1990 and also won the Champions League with Bayern Munich, Matthaeus is now a pundit with Skysports Germany and also serves as an ambassador for the Bundesliga.
The former Germany, Bayern Munich and Inter Milan leader was at the Wirsol Rhine-Neckar Arena, Sinsheim, where he called the game between Hoffenheim and Stuttgart.
But just before the match, which was won 4-0 by home side, Hoffenheim, the former World Footballer of the Year took time off to chat with members of an African media group sponsored by satellite broadcast outfit, StarTimes on a working tour of the Bundesliga.
He was as blunt as the quintessential German captain, who after the former World Cup defending champions’ disastrous outing at Russia 2018 described their playmaker, Mesut Ozil, as playing for Die Mannschaft with ‘no heart, no passion and no joy.’
He admits that Nigeria is one of the countries that always produce talented players, adding, however, that the country has been held down by its inability to get the stars to function collectively as one unit.
According to him, Nigerian players are tactically not disciplined and therefore cannot win anything unless they changed their attitude and commitment to the collective good.
He said: “Nigeria always have young talented players, who are technically gifted and very fast. But they miss the benefits of team spirit because they think a little more about themselves than the collective. You cannot win major championships while playing individual football or playing to the gallery as we saw at the last World Cup.
“You can only win when you work together. The Nigerians like football and you see it in their attitude, their constant smiles, which show they like the game. But that is not enough to win major championships. When you play to impress the crowd instead of working to help your team, you are limiting your chances of success.”
Matthaeus admits that the African game is gradually changing, but he advises the federations to ensure stability in the technical department if they desired sustainable success.
“I think step by step African teams are improving. I saw a very good team from Morocco in Russia.
The Africans played well, but they need time to get to the level that the Europeans and South Americans have reached.
Africa will benefit from their players in big European leagues, but the coaches must be allowed to do their job for that success to come,” he said.
On Gernot Rohr and Nigeria’s quest to reclaim its lost high status in world football, Matthaeus said the Franco-German has the basic qualification to succeed in the job, adding, however that the level of success depends on the type of support he gets from Nigerians.
“Rohr knows what to do. He played for Bayern Munich and has coached in Germany and France. He also knows a lot about African football and how to correct the mistakes of the players. But he needs time. African football cannot develop when it keeps changing coaches every six months.
A coach needs time to sell his ideas to his players, but when you keep changing coaches, you only confuse the players because a new coach will come with his pattern, which sometimes are different from what the players are used to.
You have to believe in the coach and his philosophy to be stable. I think the federations in Africa must believe in the coach and help him achieve his plan.
“Germany has been with the same coach in the last 12 years and it shows in the results. After failing in South Africa, the team came back to win in Brazil.
Things did not work well in Russia and the German federation has stuck with the coach. They are supporting him to correct the mistakes. That is how it should be. It gives room for continuity.”