Former Super Eagles winger, Peter Osaze Odemwingie has said that it would be difficult for Nigeria and other African teams heading to the 2018 World Cup to lift the trophy.
None of the five African teams heading to Russia are in the top 20 of Fifa’s world rankings and Odemwingie claims African football has gone backwards.
He spoke with the BBC yesterday on a topic: Will an African team reach semi-finals for first time?
“There’s definitely been a decline,” said the ex-West Brom, Cardiff and Stoke striker, who played at the 2010 and 2014 World Cups.
“Nigeria had one of the best African squads at the 1994 World Cup. We were knocking on the door. We won the 1996 Olympics by beating Brazil and Argentina with all their stars.
“That period was like, ‘yes, it’s coming’.”
But Nigeria, who will be competing at their sixth finals in Russia, is still waiting along with the rest of Africa.
The three teams to make the quarterfinals – Cameroun (1990), Senegal (2002) and Ghana (2010) – have come from sub-Saharan Africa.
But in Russia, there will be more teams from the north than elsewhere on the continent, including a first appearance in 28 years for Egypt, and a return after 20 years for Morocco.
A number of north African countries have players who learned their trade at academies in Europe, but it is Morocco who arrive at this World Cup with the most foreign-born players – 17 of their 23-man squad were born outside the country.
Odemwingie believes those who play for the north African nations are “more clever” at reading the game and has also noticed a physical difference.
“It’s like Anthony Joshua fighting Floyd Mayweather,” he said on comparing a typical player from sub-Saharan Africa with one from the north.