Weah laments poor preparation

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JOHANNESBURG, July 5- Former African football superstar George Weah blamed poor preparations Monday for the failure of most African teams to make an impact at the World Cup."Ghana did their best, but the other five teams were not prepared. They were not ready. They performed poorly," Weah said at a function to announce the merger of the FIFA World Footballer of the Year and Ballon d’Or awards.

"Africa has the talent and desire, but if we do not encourage players there will be more setbacks at future World Cups. We must go back to the drawing board and rectify the mistakes."

Pre-tournament hopes that staging the tournament on the continent would lead to improved results failed to materialise with hosts South Africa, Algeria, Cameroon, Ivory Coast and Nigeria eliminated in the first round.

While lowly ranked South Africa and Algeria were expected to struggle and Ivory Coast became victims of a cruel draw that placed them with Brazil and Portugal, Cameroon and Nigeria finished last in less demanding mini-leagues.

Only Ghana came up to scratch despite the absence of injured talisman and Chelsea midfielder Michael Essien and were robbed of the chance to become the first African semi-finalists by a deliberate handball.

Uruguay striker Luis Suarez was red carded for blocking a goal-bound header only for Asamoah Gyan to hammer his penalty against the crossbar and Ghana lost the post-match shoot-out.

Old African failings were in evidence ahead of the tournament as coaches were changed, friendlies played against unsuitable opponents, and in-fighting with Cameroon captain Samuel Eto’o and former star Roger Milla trading insults.

Liberian Weah achieved the unmatched ‘hat-tick’ of winning the World, European and African Footballer of the Year titles in 1995 and his clubs included Paris Saint-Germain, AC Milan and Chelsea.

He recalled travelling with the national ‘Lone Stars’ team to illustrate a common ill of African football as officials considered themselves more important than the players they are employed to assist.

"The Liberian officials were seated in plush business class seats while the players were back in the economy section. The footballers should be in business class because they are the ones going to play."

Weah also said the time was long overdue for African coaches to be given a chance at international level instead of paying foreigners who do not understand the mentality of footballers from the continent.

Rabah Saadane of Algeria was the sole home grown coach among the six African challengers with Ivory Coast and Nigeria using Swedes, Cameroon a Frenchman, South Africa a Brazilian and Ghana a Serb.

"African coaches are not being given the confidence, they are not being encouraged. The policy in many countries is not to trust junior coaches," warned Weah.

He used 2009 world youth championship-winning coach Sellas Tetteh as an example with the Ghanaian having to leave his homeland for Rwanda to get a senior national team post.

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