African teams penalised through errors

Although Senegal beat Poland 2-1, the African side was not immune from suffering a lack of concentration when they conceded through a set-piece .
Although Senegal beat Poland 2-1, the African side was not immune from suffering a lack of concentration when they conceded through a set-piece .
Image: Ian MacNicol/ Getty Images

A litany of errors: silly own goals, goals from set-pieces and loss of concentration at crucial moments towards the end of matches - that has been the agonising story of African teams at the World Cup in Russia.

The basics of football, defending set-pieces and resultant own goals have been the hallmark of Egypt, Morocco, Tunisia and to a certain extent Senegal and Nigeria.

It is an embarrassment, as Africa started celebrating only after Senegal and Nigeria got victories in opening and second rounds respectively on Tuesday and Friday.

Even Senegal - who picked up the continent's first maximum points, winning 2-1 against Poland - and Nigeria's 2-0 thumping of Iceland, conceded through set-pieces in their openers.

The Lions of Teranga were unable to properly organise themselves during corners and free kicks.

Remarkably, all first seven strikes against African teams at this year's tournament came from set-pieces.

Egypt, Morocco and Tunisia were all defeated towards the end of first-round matches from set-pieces by Uruguay, Iran and England respectively.

Nigeria, Tunisia and Senegal were also outmanoeuvred through set-pieces.

Lo and behold, before Friday night, all-in-all African sides had conceded 11 goals in seven matches, with eight of the goals in six of the matches coming from set-pieces.

Morocco eventually bombed out of the competition early after conceding two goals from set-pieces. Defending set-pieces is a basic in football, but requires good organisation and discipline.

Concentration, focus and players being in the mentality are also critical. Conversely, naivety can undermine 90 minutes of intense effort.

While many were scored against Africans through set- pieces, some were conceded towards the end of regulation time. Evidently, a lack of concentration when Tunisia gifted England a corner with a few minutes before full-time must be censured.

It is a coach's job to implement a strategic and professional approach at training.

As things stand, Senegal and Nigeria are our two hopefuls to go further if they make the knockout stages of Russa 2018.

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