By Boris Esono Nwenfor
Former Indomitable Lions striker Milla Roger says African teams to excel at this year’s FIFA Qatar World looking at the calibre of players on the five African teams that will compete at the global showpiece. Cameroon, Ghana, Morocco and Tunisia will join African champions Senegal at the tournament, the first in the Arab world.
Cameroon great, Roger Milla, featured in three World Cups, rising to global fame at the 1990 finals in Italy when he scored four goals at the age of 38 to help his country become the first African side to reach the quarter-finals. Since then, Senegal and Ghana have matched that feat, but yet, no African team has been able to reach the semis.
“Now is a good time to show that Africa has the best football players and the best teams in the world,” the 70-year-old told BBC Sport Africa. “We have to make our players understand that we can compete with the biggest teams. We have everything to compete with them.
Roger Milla added: “It’s up to us to get to work. We struggled for a few years but I’ve seen African football develop a lot. Now it’s time and we will see in Qatar… We are a continent blessed with great footballers – we can go further than the quarter-finals. But I’ve always said that for an African country to win the World Cup, it’s hard work first of all [that is needed].
“It’s discipline and organisation. If we look at other countries today, we are at their level in football but we now have to be well-organised [too]. I am very happy that Cameroon led the way and showed the world that Africa has teams that can compete with the greatest in the world.”
“It’s not just Cameroon, Senegal or Ghana – there are other countries that can represent our continent proudly,” Milla said.
African champions, Senegal, who won this year’s Africa Cup of Nations face hosts Qatar, the Netherlands and Ecuador in Group A while Tunisia will take on defending champions France, Denmark and Australia in Group D.
The Atlas Lions of Morocco have been drawn with 2018 runners-up Croatia, Belgium and Canada while the Indomitable Lions of Cameroon will play five-time winners Brazil, Serbia and Switzerland.
Ghana will compete against Portugal, South Korea and Uruguay. Uruguay presents an interesting matchup for the Black Stars as it was the team that prevented Ghana from becoming the first African side to reach the World Cup semi-final stage at the 2010 finals in South Africa.
The FIFA Qatar World Cup gets underway on 20 November when the hosts Qatar play Ecuador, with the final on 18 December.