By : Oma Akatugba, Hofenheim Germany
Former German footballer and manager Lothar Matthäus over the weekend expressed his thoughts on Nigerian footballers.
Matthäus , 57, was addressing Oma Akatugba and a group of sports journalists from Africa, who are in Germany on the invitation of Startimes, the official broadcast partner of the German Bundesliga in sub-Saharan Africa.
The only German to ever win the FIFA world player of the year award believes Nigeria has a lot of young and talented players but the national team sometimes lack team spirit.
“I’ve watched a lot of Nigeria football players for the past twenty to thirty years now and especially at the World Cup, they have young talented players, technically very good, fast, but what I do not like is the lack of team spirit in the national team sometimes because they try to think about only themselves. You can only win titles when you work as a team but they are very talented, and you get the feeling they love football, you see the smile on their faces, and you always see their “white teeth”. I like Nigerian and African football a lot.”
The Nigerian team to the last FIFA world cup, Russia 2018 was the youngest team of the tournament.
Lothar Matthäus also spoke on African teams performance at the Russia 2018 FIFA World Cup, singling out Morrocco for praise,
“I think step by step there have been improvements generally around African teams especially Morocco, I saw them at the world cup, and they played stiffer oppositions like Spain and Portugal and Iran, but they had only one point I think so. Nigeria and Senegal also played well, and Africa teams need time just like the European teams needed time maybe to surpass South American football. You have to work, and you will profit a lot from the African players who play here in Europe, and I think this can be the key for the national teams of Africa to maybe make the next step to the quarter and semi-finals at the world cup.”
No African team made it to the knock out stage in Russia with Nigeria recording three points, Senegal with the most points for an African team, Four, Tunisia failed to earn a point, while Morrocco ended up with just one point.
The former Bayern Munich and Inter Milan player was asked to offer a word of advice for the Nigerian national team’s manager, who is also German.
“Gernot Rohr knows what he has to do because he was a former player with Bayern Munich, a coach-player in France and also has a lot of experience. He knows African football very well and speaks French, and many African countries speak French too. He’s the coach for the future.
“It was good he was given the opportunity to continue after the world cup because you have to believe in the coach and his job, allow him to go all the way with his system, tactics and philosophy”
The Nigerian football federation expressed confidence in the German tactician despite failing to lead the Super Eagles to the next stage at the FIFA world cup. Rohr has since then won two of his last three AFCON 2019 qualifiers against Seychelles away and Libya over two legs, scoring ten goals.
Matheus concluded by expressing his displeasure on African football federations in the way they treat coaches.
“If you change the coach every six months or each year, the team cannot have stability,” said Matthaus.
“One year you play offensive, one-year defensive. One year you play the young players, the next you play the experienced ones.
“I think the federations in Africa have to believe in the coach when he signs the contract. They have to work with him, and not only when the results are good. And not fire the coach when the result is terrible.
“For me, that’s too ‘much up and down, You need to have more stability in your system and work longer with the same coach, like Germany did in the last 12 years”
“For this, we (Germany) also had a bad result in the World Cup. But we believe the coach (Joachim Low) will correct the mistakes and get good results again.”
Matthäus currently works as an ambassador of the German Bundesliga, helping to make the league popular in countries around the world, Sub Saharan Africa inclusive where Startimes is the official broadcast partner .