In 1998, France won the World Cup with Didier Deschamps lifting the trophy as captain. Twenty years later he led a younger France team to be crowned as world champions under very similar but also different circumstances. France came into the tournament with very talented teams of diverse origins, race and religions benefiting their national team Les Bleus immensely. Indeed the 2018 team had as many as 19 players from different countries with 14 originally from Africa. If you are a believer of omens, both teams met Croatia and beat the former Soviet state to win the trophy going undefeated in the process. We have pointed out 3 major lessons Africa can learn from France, the winners of the World Cup 2018

The main strength in the 2018 squad is the abundance of talent in all positions across the pitch. World class players like Hugo Lloris in goal, Spanish league giant duo Raphael Varane and Samuel Umtiti in defense, Manchester United’s Paul Pogba as well as N’golo Kante in midfield and Antoine Griezmann with Kylian Mbappe in attack was a blessing every coach would want to have. Not forgetting a rich set of players on the bench to change things if needed. Didier Deschamps deserves much credit for finding a harmonious blend for a star studded team considering Argentina, Spain and former champions Germany had a disastrous tournament although they were blessed with individual talent. Most often being a team player gets the job done instead of selfishly shinning above your team mates.

Tactical Leadership

  Six years ago since Didier Deschamps became the coach for France; he has done well and truly made Team France in his own image. Not only that, but he believed in himself that he can put his ideas into action on the pitch, something France had previously lacked at major tournaments. He kept things simple by using the right tool for the right job. This was a masterstroke as he did not complicate things for his players; everyone played the same positions they were used to at their various clubs. N’goloKante destroying the opponents play, Pogba the main distributing channel in midfield and teenage prodigy Mbappe tormenting opponents with his blistering pace and a never say die mentality made France one of the sure candidates for the trophy. With such great leadership skills, Africa could transform national teams to be highly exceptional.

Deschamps may have had a talented team and deserves credit for using them at their the full strengths individually, but the biggest credit is his ability to maintain unity within the team when there are a lot of issues back home with France politically divided on diversity and immigrants. The success of the team helped to unite the country once more even in the wake of political tension over immigrants. This certainly drums home the message that regardless of colour, race and ethnic backgrounds if there is unity of purpose nothing is impossible. If it can be done on the football pitch, then it can be done within the physical boundaries of any country.

Africa has a lot to learn from France since the majority of those that won them the trophy have strong ties to the continent. African countries must invest heavily in infrastructure, proper technical and leadership training of our coaches and players as well as improving nutrition and the psychological part of the beautiful game. We may not have the facilities and financial muscle that the French possess but we can eliminate those weaknesses by reducing our disagreements due to our diversity. But if we promote what unites us instead of what divides us, we stand a big chance of one day winning the World Cup.