Guwahati (Assam) [India], Oct. 21 (ANI): Before taking on each other in the all-African quarterfinal of the FIFA U17 World Cup India 2017 on October 21, both Ghana and Mali U-17 team coaches lamented the African teams' lesser success rate in the senior age-group compared to the junior age-group competitions.
Speaking at the pre-match press conference in Guwahati, Fabin Samuel, the Ghana U-17 coach said, "It has been a perennial problem for us. Having come from a poor background when the boys find the initial glitz and glamour of the football professional world, they lose the pathway."
"They need to adopt the mental toughness. They have to build themselves from within to get the success in the senior level, which is so tough and gruelling," he added.
Ghana have won the FIFA U-17 World Cup trophy twice in 1991 and 1995 and have finished runners-up twice in 1993 and 1997. On the other hand, they have qualified for the final stage of the FIFA World Cup only thrice up until now.
Kokou Komla, the Mali U-17 Coach picked up another aspect to address the same issue. "After going to Europe they take up the nationalities of the respective countries and eventually decide to turn up for those nations snubbing their motherland," he maintained.
"They don't come back to their own country and this plays a big role blocking us from reaching the next level in world football," Komla stated.
Meanwhile, the Ghanaian coach who didn't mince his words admitted that "everyone feels pressure their in job and I'm no different."
He also rued the youngsters' mental instability at the crucial juncture of their career.
"This age is the crucial time for a player and the player needs to understand this. They have to keep focus and continue to develop themselves as a player. So many promising African careers have gone waste," Samuel added.
Having won the Africa U-17 Cup of Nations title in 2015, Mali finished behind champions Nigeria in the last edition of the FIFA U-17 World Cup before conquering the Africa U-17 Cup of Nations title again in 2017.
But, the picture is a gloomy one while the focus shifts to the senior team. The West-African team's best finish in the African Cup of Nations was in 1972 when they lost to Congo in the final.
The fact that they have never been able to qualify for the FIFA World Cup would only add more dismay to the Mali football fans.
Komla pointed out that "less time to mould a team" plays a major role in failing to build a "perfect team to give others a big fight."
"The boys stay and play together in the junior age group and the team builds up from within. Once the boys fly to different countries to play professionally, this bonding diminishes."
"The technical, psychological aspects of the senior football is huge and it's really tough to inculcate a team within such short period," Komla mentioned.
Nevertheless, Komla stayed optimistic the recent resurgence of Mali Football might trigger a key role enticing the Europe-based players to choose the national colour over the European counterparts.
"It's really going well now and is benefitting us in the true sense. It motivates the young generations as well as lures the senior players coming back to their motherland. It has been a collective effort so far and everyone right from the Football Association, players, technical stuff deserves the due credit." (ANI)