THE elimination of Senegal from the 2018 Fifa World Cup was met with both disappointment and anger among the generality of Africans.
Senegal was the only team from the continent that was left with a chance to progress to the last 16 of the tournament after the elimination of Egypt, Tunisia, Morocco and Nigeria.
After storming into the quarter-finals in the 2002 edition, the continent expected this current Senegalese team to go a notch higher.
Egypt lost all their matches in their group and returned home empty-handed while Morocco, for all their impressive passing game, only managed a point while Nigeria succumbed to a late strike from Argentina on Tuesday to also fall by the wayside.
And with Senegal, going into their final group match against Colombia needing just a single point to progress to the knockout stages, all hope was on the West Africans to represent the continent in the later rounds.
But after a 1-0 defeat to Colombia, they were to be eliminated in not only the most bizarre of circumstances, but also disappointing as they lost out because they had accumulated more yellow cards than Japan who had also lost 1-0 to Poland.
Many people have voiced anger over the fair play rule as a tie breaker at this World Cup, but to their credit Senegal themselves have not mourned about it.
Rules are rules and Senegal knew beforehand what they needed to do and they failed in their mission.
There are so many lessons to be learned at this World Cup, which in the end was a disappointing one for Africa, as it saw the continent’s worst performance since 1982.
Africa is not like other continents such as Europe and the Americas. When Germany loses, like they did against South Korea, in England they will have a big party.
That is the nature of their rivalry.
In Africa, we do have our rivalries, but when it comes to the World Cup, all nations on the continent tend to back one another.
Senegal’s pain was felt almost as much in Zimbabwe and other countries on the continent.
As a continent, we need to change our attitude when it comes to such an important tournament as the World Cup.
Compare for instance the number of backroom staff that European and South American teams have to the lean benches at African teams.
African teams tend not to pay attention to detail as other countries do. We do not take the World Cup seriously as everyone else does and our approach seems to always fail us as a continent.
Africa’s failure at the World Cup is a big lesson for Zimbabwe that attitude is very important for such events.
Zimbabwe travelled to the Africa Cup of Nations finals in 2017 without their playing kit. Imagine such a team going to the World Cup, can one expect any success?
The approach to football has got to change. Looking at the number of supporters that the likes of Argentina have at this tournament shows the importance of success at the World Cup to them as a nation.
Africa is regarded as a poor continent, but even in terms of support for our teams we can still do much better.
We tend to expect success at such major tournaments to just come without us putting everything that we have to in it.